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New Prosecutor General faces thorny path towards glory

Posted July. 04, 2017 07:36,   

Updated July. 04, 2017 07:47

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On Monday, the Candidate Recommendation Committee for Public Prosecutor General issued a list of recommendations, which includes So Byung-cheol, a chair-professor at Agricultural Cooperative University, Moon Moo-il and Oh Se-in, the district directors of Busan and Gwangju, and Jo Hui-jin, the district attorney of Uijeongbu.

The four candidates boast decent and faultless reputations. Professor So, who went to Gwangju Jeil High School and studied law at Seoul National University, is the oldest among the four men and was included twice in the list of candidates for the same post during the previous administration. District Director Moon, who went to Gwangju Jeil High School and studied law at Korea University, is a veteran special investigator, with the experience of leading the special investigation team on the case of Seong Wan-jong list, a highly sensational corruption scandal that jolted the nation a few years ago. District Director Oh, who went to Gangneung High School and studied law at Seoul National University, proved himself to be an exemplar of public service by serving in the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office nine times. District Attorney Jo Hui-jin, went to Sungshin Women’s High School and studied law at Korea University, set numerous records as the first female prosecutor to achieve such feats.

The first cabinet shuffling of the Moon Jae-in administration saw public figures from the Jeolla provinces rising to prominence. Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon, who went to Gwangju Jeil High School, Kim Sang-gon, the nominee for Deputy Prime Minister of the Social Affairs and Education, and Kim Young-rok, the nominee for Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, all fail from the Jeolla region. Professor Park Sang-gi of Yonsei Law School, a nominee for Justice Minister, went to Baejae High School and studied law at Yonsei University, but he was born in Muan, South Jeolla Province. There have been cases where the justice minister and prosecutor general come from the same region. One of the candidates will be chosen by President Moon. It draws a keen attention whether he will consider regional dynamics or focus on individual capacity.

Former Prosecutor Generals Jung Gu-young and Jung Sang-myung of the Roh Tae-woo and Roh Moo-hyun administrations are considered to be one of the most powerful figures who ever served the post. Jung Gu-young was a senior secretary to the president for civil affairs, and Jung Sang-myung had a close personal tie with the president as the two passed the bar in the same year. Whoever is chosen, the Prosecutor General will have to face the headwind of prosecutorial reforms. The power of prosecution will be sapped if a new investigative body is introduced focused on corruptions of high-ranking officials and the prosecution’s investigative right is adjusted as planned during his tenure. In other words, the new Prosecutor General will have to trod on a thorny path to glory.