Forcing Yoon outThe ruling Democratic Party (DP) has gone too far in shaking Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl. It has stepped beyond political offensive to seriously undermine the independence of the state prosecution institution. In a radio interview, Rep. Sul Hoon, a senior member of the DP, said, “If I were him (Yoon), I would have resigned a long time ago.”
Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae even ordered the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office’s internal inspection team to revoke a review of alleged subordination in a case involving former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook from the human rights supervision division of the Seoul District Prosecutors’ Office. After her conviction, former Prime Minister Han served a two-year jail term and was released in 2017.
Prosecutors complain that the government was indirectly aiming at Yoon by finding fault with the process of revisiting the bribery case of Han, the prime minister under former President Roh Moo-hyun. The DP eagerly wants to restore the reputation of Han despite the final verdict by the Supreme Court.
The offensive against Yoon also raises suspicion about its design. Yoon has been unwavering in spearheading multiple criminal cases related to the presidential office and key figures of the ruling party, including Song Cheol-ho — Ulsan Mayor and a longtime friend of President Moon — and Moon’s former aide Yoo Jae-soo.
The DP’s overbearing ways were predicted after the party won the super majority in the new National Assembly. Once an extraordinary law enforcement agency is established, Yoon is expected to be the first target. The DP has dominated the Legislation and Judiciary Committee and seated Yoon’s critics on the committee in a campaign to oust Yoon.
Yoon had been handpicked by President Moon Jae-in in July last year because he had been decisive in investigations on wrongdoings of the past conservative governments. Moon asked Yoon to be equally stern with the powers that be. But when Yoon stayed steadfast to the investigation on former Justice Minister Cho Kuk, Yoon became a common enemy of the ruling camp.
Under the Prosecution Act, the prosecutor general’s term is guaranteed for two years. The term must be respected. Won Hee-ryong — current Jeju Governor — said the political attack on Yoon has gotten out of control. We wonder why the president is keeping quiet.