| The Supreme Prosecutors Office뭩 central investigation department has handled major cases in Korea, including a financial scandal implicating the late former President Roh Moo-hyun in May 2009, and sent numerous politicians and businessmen to prison.
Inspired by such achievements, prosecutors have long admired and been proud of the department. Yet the unit also has a history of being accused of excessive investigations or politically motivated probes. Understandably, politicians and the business community are at odds with the department.
Against this backdrop, both the ruling and opposition parties have customarily announced plans to abolish the department before an election or a political reform movement.
Prosecutor-General Han sang-dai is known to seek the abolition of the department, which refutes the suspicion that he pressed for such a plan this time to secure a seat. Many who oppose him also agree that he has no personal reason for wanting to remove the department.
Many prosecutors say Han뭩 choice to abolish the department was his way of overcoming the crisis surrounding prosecutors that caused his downfall. That is, he pushed ahead with the plan without consent from other prosecutors.
Han was also criticized for his attempt to keep in check opponents by investigating Choi Jae-kyung, the head of the central investigation department who resigned in protest over the proposed bid to remove his unit.
Though the department is not as admired as in the past, prosecutors who worked for the department are known to have a sense of pride and consider themselves elite. So for them, the shutdown of the unit could be akin to losing their home. Choi, on the other hand, has many supporters among prosecutors. So experts say Han뭩 attack on Choi was the direct cause of Han뭩 resignation in that it invited a backlash from prosecutors.