The last defense shieldPresident Moon Jae-in named former Vice Justice Minister Kim Oh-soo as chief prosecutor. The Blue House touted his credentials of having fought for civilian rights and prosecution reforms. But the appointment was made mostly to defend the governing power during the final year of the president’s term. The presidential office kept to its consistent appointment pattern:― prioritizing officials’ loyalty to the president and the liberal camp over any leadership ability or expertise.
There has been sufficient circumstantial evidence that the Blue House had hoped to appoint Lee Seong-yun, head of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, as prosecutor general. His name was on the review list despite the controversy he had caused by demanding a review of the prosecution’s investigation that named him as a suspect in a case of abuse of power.
After Lee did not make the cut, Kim, who had served under controversial Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae, surfaced as the strongest candidate. The choice has little support beyond the ruling camp. In the category of confidence in his ability to manage the top law enforcement agency, Kim scored the lowest.
Yet he was handpicked by Moon. It cannot be considered just or even fair. Justice Minister Park Beom-kye said that next prosecutor-general must be a person “relevant to the president’s governance philosophy.” Loyalty was prioritized over neutrality and independence of the prosecution.
Lee is on the verge of being indicted for interfering in the illegal issuance of a travel ban on former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-eui, who served under the conservative administration. Kim, the prosecutor general nominee, is accused of being involved in the case. If he is appointed prosecutor general, he would be put in an awkward position to have authority over a case in which he is implicated.
Kim’s name repeatedly came up as a candidate for head of the prosecution, the National Human Rights Commission, the Financial Services Commission, or as a member on the Board of Audit and Inspection. He even tried to block former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl from commanding the corruption case of another controversial former Justice Minister, Cho Kuk, and his family.
Kim comes to a prosecution with very low morale due to the Blue House’s reckless reform drive. The top law enforcement authority needs to be a fortress against political pressure from outside. Kim must use his strengths to serve the people rather than the powers that be. A prosecutor general under the sway of the powers that be can lead to tragedy for the nation and its people.