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[Opinion] Female Prosecutors

Posted February. 15, 2005 22:42,   


A reporter asked Prosecutor General Song Kwang-soo, “Isn’t the number of female public prosecutors increasing too much?” He answered, “I want to see a female head public prosecutor kick a male public prosecutor in the shin.” On February 14, 36 female public prosecutors were recruited, making the total number of female public prosecutors 139, 8.9 percent of the total of 1,559. Now we have almost entered the stage where one out of 10 public prosecutors is a woman. As early as five years ago, there were only 29 female public prosecutors. The old famous Korean movie titled “A Male Prosecutor and a Female Teacher,” released just after the liberation from the Japanese colonial rule, now has to have a new title: “A Female Prosecutor and A Male Teacher.”

It was conventional wisdom that women were unsuitable for the public prosecutor positions. While judges read documents, listen to suitors, and then make a decision, public prosecutors have direct confrontations with criminal suspects, which is not a “girl” thing to do. Although there is no longer a night vigil investigation, it then was regarded as difficult for women to work overnight with endless inquiries and to figure out the truth. Thus, it was the norm that a women public prosecutor was not appointed to a special security task force, often known as “recognized department” whose stigma was well known.

The rising number of female public prosecutors can be easily explained. The number of female candidates is high, and their exam scores are very high. Interviewees admit that this time they decided not to recruit women, but there was just nothing flawed about their scores, willingness, and commitment. Prejudice has changed both inside and outside the prosecutors’ circle. As female public prosecutors have a female’s typical tenderness and precise characteristic, they have more advantageous positions than their counterparts. It is pointed out that this goes well with the prosecution’s reform motto of investigating criminals while protecting their human rights.

In order to live up to these expectations, they have to show due efforts. Female public prosecutors ought to show actively their utmost investigating capability. Public Prosecutor Kang Hyung-min (aged 36, passed the 38th Bar Exam) of the Seongnam District Public Prosecutors’ Office indicted for the first time a campaigner involved in a rigged election during the 17th general elections, changing the overall election culture. In another case there is public prosecutor Kang Susana (aged 36, passed the 40th Bar Exam) of Daegu District Public Prosecutors’ Office, who successfully quelled police’s argument for non-prosecution, and indicted three doctors without physical restraint in a medical malpractice case which is notoriously known to be hard to indict. It is hoped that there will be many more women public prosecutors like these.

Lee Jae-Ho, Editorial writer, leejaeho@donga.com