Keep a low profile

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Keep a low profile

New Justice Minister Cho Kuk met National Assembly speaker Moon Hee-sang and ruling Democratic Party leadership and vowed to do his utmost to achieve judiciary and prosecutorial reform. He launched a task force on prosecutorial reform under the leadership of a human rights lawyer-turned-official and ordered a reform direction that “no one can dare to turn back.”

The people have become weary with the flood of news involving Cho ever since he was inaugurated on Sept. 9. Under the indictment report on Cho’s wife submitted to the National Assembly, the prosecution accused her of faking the presidential stamp on the award certificate issued to her daughter by Dongyang University where she worked. Her daughter has been questioned by the prosecution and Cho himself could be summoned. It is disheartening to witness the head of the Justice Ministry implicated in corruption charges.

Cho is suspected to have lied under oath at the confirmation hearing and news conference. Cho claimed that his daughter did not state the medical research paper — which credited her as the first author — when she applied for Korea University. But the prosecution found that Cho’s daughter earned a high credit score from Korea University for her cited contribution to a highly accredited publication. A brokerage house employee also testified that he had helped replace hard discs at two PCs at Cho’s home at the request of Cho’s wife and that Cho had thanked him for his help.

A legal revision is in the works to punish anyone who had lied under oath at legislative hearings. A TV poll showed that 57.1 percent believed the appointment of Cho was wrong, overwhelming the 36.3 percent in approval.

Despite his earlier promise not to get involved in the ongoing investigation into his family, Cho has been taking actions that could pressure the prosecution. He is seeking to install a new media guideline banning the prosecution from sharing information about questioning schedules and witnesses or indictment details. He assured that nobody would be disadvantaged “if prosecutors abide by the law.” But that also sounds like a threat.

He even arranged meetings with prosecutors. Justice ministers usually visit district prosecution offices for regular conversations with prosecutors. But why he chooses to make his rounds when his family is under investigation raises serious questions. He must keep a low profile until the investigations are over.

JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 18, Page 30
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