Moon picks justice minister

06-Dec-2019 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

President Moon Jae-in has picked ruling party veteran Rep. Choo Mi-ae as his nominee for justice minister, Cheong Wa Dae announced Thursday.

The post has been vacant since Moon’s trusted aide Cho Kuk resigned October 15, only 35 days after being appointed amid a widening corruption investigation into the former senior presidential aide for civic affairs. Choo’s nomination comes after weeks of intense speculation about who would be Cho’s successor, given the particular importance the President has placed on the post for his key policy goal of reforming the prosecution.

“The justice minister nominee entered the law profession to safeguard the rights and interests of the underprivileged. During her time as a judge, she exerted every effort to make people-centered rulings,” presidential spokeswoman Ko Min-jung said during a press conference at Cheong Wa Dae.

“After entering politics, she became the first woman to serve five terms in our constitutional history and has displayed special leadership. The legal expertise, political capacity, and strong determination for reform that Choo has built as a judge and lawmaker will greatly contribute to the completion of prosecutorial reform and the establishment of a nation governed by the law of fairness and justice.” The nomination comes 50 days after after Cho’s departure.

It was noteworthy that her nomination was announced a day after the prosecution searched a division of the presidential office regarding widening allegations that it meddled in the local elections in April 2018. A former investigator with the special inspection team of the civil affairs office was found dead Sunday prior to scheduled questioning by prosecutors. Cheong Wa Dae and the prosecution have clashed over the investigation into the allegation regarding the activities of the civic affairs office which was supervised by Cho at the time of the local elections.

The presidential office has publicly warned the prosecution about spreading false information about the case. Choo’s nomination is seen as a strong message from President Moon to Prosecutor-General Yoon Seok-yeol., who has been leading a meticulous investigation into the alleged wrongdoings of Cho, one Moon’s closest allies.

“The people are strongly calling for judicial and prosecutorial reform,” Choo told reporters at the National Assembly after her nomination. “I will do my best to meet the demands of the people with a sense of calling. I believe the President’s nomination reflects his commitment to work together to deal with the national aspiration for judicial reform and the needs of the times.”

The political parties’ reaction to the nomination was mixed. The Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) noted the nominee’s expertise and experience. But the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) said the nomination was a “declaration to control the judiciary.” The LKP vowed a detailed verification of her qualifications during an upcoming confirmation hearing.

If appointed after the hearing, the five-term lawmaker will be only the second woman justice minister after Kang Kum-sil during the previous Roh Moo-Hyun administration. Her appointment would raise the number of women ministers from the current five to six, accounting for 33 percent of the 18-ministerial level posts in the Cabinet. Moon has emphasized the promotion of gender equality among leaders in his administration.

The 61-year-old had an illustrious career as a judge before entering politics in 1996 on the advice of former President Kim Dae-jung. As a politician, she has also made a mark with her leadership, having served as the chairwoman of the ruling DPK for two years from 2016. It is still considered rare for a female lawmaker to serve as a party leader in Korea. She had been widely considered a foremost candidate to fill the post due to her special ties with President Moon.


Category: Korea

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