Getting out of handThe ruling forces have lost their senses as they desperately try to defend Cho Kuk, nominee for justice minister under attack from politicians and students opposing his appointment due to a number of allegations around his family, to the point of breaking laws. Choi Sung-hae, president of Dongyang University who claimed he had never signed off or authorized an academic award to Cho’s daughter, received calls from heavyweights in the ruling party — Ryu Si-min, head of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation, and Rep. Kim Du-kwan of the Democratic Party (DP) — before he went to prosecution for questioning about the award. He reportedly was asked to tell the prosecution that he had authorized the awarding to Cho’s wife, Chung Kyun-min, who taught at Dongyang University and headed the Language Education Center where their daughter finished a program.
Ryu and Kim denied any attempt to make an influence and claimed they made the call to inquire about the media reports. But Choi nevertheless would have felt pressure upon receiving calls from political heavyweights. The foundation in memory of the late President Roh that Ryu heads is one of the strongest support bases for the ruling party, with over 60,000 members. Kim served as a governor and ran for the party preliminary for presidential candidates. Both called the university dean around lunchtime.
The university head was bombarded by the DP over his comment denying the award. DP claimed Choi was an ultra-right figure and heading a press association of a conservative body of Korean churches. Rep. Song Ki-hun, accused Cho of being a “Taekuki warrior,” referring to ultra-rightists. They are entirely misled. Choi supported President Moon Jae-in in the 2012 presidential election, and he was recommended to the university by popular progressive political critic Jin Jung-kwon.
The slander campaign against Choi is a shameful attempt to divert attention away from the wrongdoings committed by the Cho family. On the same day, nearly 200 active or retired professors of 85 universities issued a joint statement demanding the withdrawal of Cho’s nomination. The student body of Seoul National University also issued a similar statement. Can all of them be “ultra-rightists” for opposing Cho?
The Save Cho campaign has gotten out of control. Even Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon and Justice Minister Park Sang-ki have come to his rescue. The government and ruling party are entirely engrossed to save Cho and are causing frictions with the prosecution. Is all the fuss necessary? What are they afraid of?