Moon names new prosecution head
President Moon Jae-in on Sunday named Lee Keum-ro, head of the Incheon District Prosecutors Office, as vice minister of justice and Bong Wook, head of the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office, as the deputy-head of the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office.
The vacancies in the leaderships of the ministry and prosecution were created last week in the aftermath of a scandal involving senior members of the two offices.
On Wednesday, Moon ordered an inspection into a dinner hosted last month by Lee Young-yeol, then-Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, and Ahn Tae-gun, then-director of the Criminal Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Justice.
At the dinner, Lee and Ahn gave envelopes stuffed with cash to each other’s juniors.
The inspection started on Thursday and Lee and Ahn tendered resignations.
Moon, however, did not accept the resignations and instead demoted the two men. Vice Minister of Justice Lee Chang-jae stepped down Friday.
Since Kim Hyun-woong’s resignation in November, Lee was heading the ministry as the acting minister.
Kim Ju-hyun, deputy head of the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office, also stepped down on Friday. Since Prosecutor-general Kim Soo-nam’s resignation on May 15, he was acting as the head of the prosecution.
“Because the vice minister of justice and deputy head of the prosecution stepped down over the recent scandal, the vacancies were filled first before reshuffles of other ministries,” said Park Soo-hyun, presidential spokesman. “Through these appointments, we hope the prosecution will quickly regain stability.”
Moon also named Kim Hyung-yun, a former judge who has long pushed for judicial reform, as the presidential secretary for legal affairs.
Before the appointment, Kim was serving as the senior judge of the Incheon District Court.
“He is not afraid of challenging voices that go against his belief,” said Park. “He is known as a reformist in the judicial community.”
Moon, who took office earlier this month in a snap election to succeed Park Geun-hye, has made clear that judicial reform, particularly overhauling the prosecution, is one of his goals.
During his first 10 days as the president, Moon made a series of moves to that end.
The first step was appointing Cho Kuk, a progressive law professor and critic of the criminal justice system, as senior secretary for civil affairs.
An inspection into the suspicions involving the Lee-Ahn dinner followed.
On Friday, Yoon Seok-youl, a prosecutor from the independent counsel team that investigated the Park scandal, was named head of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, breaking the prosecution’s rigid seniority-based hierarchy.
BY SER MYO-JA [firstname.lastname@example.org]