Former Prosecutor General Kim Jong-bin said the contents of a 40-minute phone conversation with Justice Minister Chun Jung-bae on October 12 right before Chun ordered prosecutors not to detain professor Kang Jeong-gu under the National Security Law for his pro-North remarks to reporters. Kim said that at that time, he told Chun that if Chun invoked his power to intervene in specific cases, he, as the top prosecutor, had no choice but to tender his resignation.
Kim said, I consulted with Chun for a long time over whether the controversial academic should be punished. I had a heated discussion in the 40-minute phone conversation with Chun right before he invoked his power to intervene in the case, but we failed to hammer out the differences in our viewpoints.
Earlier, in a Legislative and Judiciary Committee general meeting of the National Assembly on October 18, Chun said, I received a report in which prosecutors would detain the controversial academic through a phone conversation with Kim on the morning of October 12 when I invoked my authority to step in the case. That was the final conversation with Kim. Some media reports that I had a heated dispute with Kim during the 40-minute phone conversation are not true.
Kim mentioned some details of their phone conversation.
When Kim dug his heels in the existing position while explaining the tenor and need for arresting professor Kang, Chun responded that he would take all legal measures in his capacity as justice minister.
In response, Kim asked, What are the legal measures? Chun responded, My prerogative to intervene in specific cases.
Kim tried to persuade Chun to ponder on invoking his authority and the aftermath, adding that although there was a single case in which a Japanese justice minister invoked his power to step in specific cases, the result led to the general resignation of the then Cabinet. However, he failed to persuade Chun.
In his final words to reporters, Kim stressed, Korea is in a divisive situation, and the basic principle of the Constitution is free democracy, adding, Kangs pro-North remarks and actions are obviously against the law, and I still remain steadfast in my belief that Kangs arrest is inevitable.