Rallies to continue despite justice minister’s resignation

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Rallies to continue despite justice minister’s resignation

The rallies by conservative and liberal groups that have filled the streets of Gwanghwamun and Seocho-dong recently over the corruption scandal surrounding former Justice Minister Cho Kuk will continue today, despite Cho’s resignation earlier in the week.

The opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and a group of conservative organizations will host a rally at Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul from 1 p.m. today to criticize the Moon Jae-in administration.

They expect around 10,000 to gather for the rally. Groups of liberal organizations and civic groups, on the other hand, will be hosting a rally today from 5 p.m. in front of the National Assembly in Yeouido, western Seoul, in support of the Moon government and its plan to reform the prosecution.

They will be demanding for the passing of bills at the National Assembly that would empower the police to open and close cases without approval from the prosecution and establish an independent investigative unit targeting crimes by top government figures, part of Moon’s agenda to reform the prosecution.

They expect around 30,000 people to take part. The two rallies led by conservative and liberal organizations had reached their peaks with the nomination and appointment of Cho Kuk as justice minister.

Cho, who served as senior presidential secretary for civil affairs in Moon’s Blue House, was nominated in August to head the Justice Ministry.

Since his nomination, various suspicions surfaced about his family, including his wife’s dubious investment of family assets and academic irregularities involving his daughter.

Despite the suspicions, President Moon appointed Cho on Sept. 9, a decision which split the country.

Thousands of people rallied in Gwanghwamun to call for Cho’s ouster, the number reaching a peak of around 3 million according to organizers on Oct. 3.

Members of the public and liberal organizations in support of Cho also took to the streets to support Cho and his signature campaign of prosecutorial reform. The organizers said as many as 2 million people gathered at the rally in front of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in Seocho-dong on Sept. 28. The LKP took issue with the number, with some members stating that it could not have been higher than 50,000 given the size of the area occupied by the protesters.

Cho resigned Monday as investigations into his family’s suspected academic and financial crimes intensified. Cho’s wife, Chung Kyung-sim, has been indicted on charges of forging an academic award for her daughter, Cho Min, in order to help her get into medical school. Chung is also being questioned about her role in investments in and the operations of a private equity fund. Two people linked with Cho’s younger brother have been indicted on charges of receiving bribes from teachers at a school operated by the Cho family in exchange for their jobs.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]
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