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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on June 4)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:05 June 07, 2021

Defending the powers that be

In a reshuffle of the prosecution this Friday, Justice Minister Park Beom-kye placed pro-government prosecutors in major posts of the top law enforcement agency while transferring most of the prosecutors close to former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl to leisurely posts. Such a unique pattern of appointments has continued since the controversial appointment of Choo Mi-ae as justice minister in January last year.

New Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo has issued a statement welcoming the reshuffle. "It is fortunate that my idea was mostly reflected in the reshuffle," he said. But the ministry steadfastly kept to its previous appointment standards based on loyalty to the government. A case in point is the promotion of Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office head Lee Sung-yoon as chief of the Seoul High Prosecutors' Office regardless of his notoriously biased dealings with sensitive cases involving the government.

The post of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office will be taken up by Lee Jung-soo, current head of the Prosecution Department of the ministry. Lee was deeply involved in censuring former Prosecutor General Yoon for nonsensical reasons when he served under Justice Minister Choo. He will certainly follow in the footsteps of Lee Sung-yoon, the controversial head of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office, when he assumes the job at the largest district prosecutors' office. His appointment is aimed at blocking prosecutors from investigating the alleged Blue House intervention in issuing a travel ban on former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-eui. Lee will also delve into allegations against the former prosecutor general's wife's family.

Lee Kwang-cheol, presidential secretary for civil affairs, is suspected of getting involved in the travel ban on the former vice justice minister. The Suwon District Prosecutors' Office requested the Supreme Prosecutors' Office approve Lee's indictment, but the top prosecutors' office has been sitting on its hands for more than three weeks. In the meantime, Lee was reportedly involved in the reshuffle of the prosecution. If an official waiting for an indictment really stepped in the reshuffle of prosecutors, that doesn't make sense.

The heads of the Suwon District Prosecutors' Office and the Suwon High Prosecutors' Office, which command investigations of the travel ban, also will be replaced by pro-government prosecutors. A top prosecutor who has been probing suspicious data fabrication on the shutdown of Wolseong-1 reactor also will likely be replaced. In that case, the prosecution's indictment of the former energy minister for destruction of evidence is impossible.
(END)

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