Millions expected at rally to support prosecutorial reform

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Millions expected at rally to support prosecutorial reform

Millions of people are expected to turn out at a rally in Seoul this weekend to call for efforts to reform the prosecutorial system and support Justice Minister Cho Kuk, organizers said Thursday, amid a widening investigation into corruption allegations surrounding his family.

The candlelight vigil, to be organized by the Civic Coalition for Eliminating Accumulated Ills in the Judicial System, is set to begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday in southern Seoul where the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office is located. The coalition, spearheaded by Cho’s supporters, has held a similar weekend rally twice, on Sept. 21 and Saturday last week.

The organizers of the rally, which claimed a turnout of 2 million at last week’s gathering, estimated that between 2 and 3 million people will attend the upcoming rally. At the gathering, the protesters are expected to highlight their assertion that the prosecution’s ongoing probe into Cho and his family is hindering efforts to reform the prosecutorial system and call for the implementation of reform measures including the establishment of a special presidential unit to investigate corruption by high-ranking officials.

On Thursday, members from a group of conservative bodies and the main opposition Liberty Korea Party held an anti-government rally later in the day at Gwanghwamun Square, central Seoul, before marching toward the presidential office Blue House.

The opposition bloc has demanded that President Moon Jae-in retract his appointment of Cho, which was made on Sept. 9, amid partisan wrangling over whether Cho is qualified to lead the Justice Ministry as the prosecution is probing into his family over corruption suspicions. Following the revelation that Cho spoke by phone with a chief prosecutor at the scene of a raid on his residence on Sept. 23, the opposition party has strengthened its demand that Cho withdraw from the position, citing that he violated the principle of law and the Constitution.

In early August, Moon nominated Cho, a law professor and former presidential secretary for civil affairs, to the position.

Prosecutors soon launched an extensive investigation into allegations, largely raised by opposition parties and some news outlets, of ethical lapses and violations of the law by his family, especially in connection with an investment in a private equity fund and his daughter’s school admissions.

The prosecution has indicted his wife on charges of forging a college president’s citation for use in her daughter’s medical school application. With the accusation, especially, that his daughter had help getting into a reputable university, South Korea continues to be roiled with protests from the opposition bloc and students as a nation known for fierce competition to get into prestigious universities.

Critics of Cho and the Moon administration say that the minister is unqualified and that he should immediately step down. But those who support him argue that prosecutors are deliberately leaking information related to the ongoing probe to media in a bid to put pressure on him.

A group of students from universities including Korea and Yonsei universities held a rally at Daehangno Street to express their objection to Moon’s appointment of Cho.

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