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5. Candlelight Division: Controversial Appointment of Fmr. Justice Minister Cho Kuk and Discord Over Prosecutorial Reform

2019-12-31



South Koreans became deeply divided in the second half of 2019 amid political discord and street rallies held by people supporting opposite political camps.

The national division was sparked by the nomination of former senior presidential secretary for civil affairs Cho Kuk as new justice minister.

The conflict began when President Moon Jae-in announced the nomination of his new justice minister on August 9. The main opposition Liberty Korea Party(LKP) and minor opposition parties claimed the nominee lacked qualifications, alleging improprieties surrounding university entrance of his daughter and his family’s private equity fund investments. And the prosecution launched an investigation into the allegations.

Supporters of the Moon administration and his reform drive extended rallies in front of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, criticizing the prosecution’s probe. Confrontation intensified when supporters of the conservative camp extended their rallies in Gwanghwamun Square, calling for Cho’s resignation. Some even called for an impeachment of President Moon.

President Moon, however, pushed ahead with appointing Cho as justice minister on September 9.

Facing turmoil, Cho stepped down on October 14, just 35 days after taking the post, leaving behind the task of reforming the prosecution.

The nation remains divided even after Cho’s resignation as political discord and street rallies continue over the key electoral and prosecutorial reform bills placed on fast-track.

Photo : KBS News

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