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5 High Court Justices Near Retirement

Posted May. 01, 2006 03:34,   


With the arrest of Hyundai and Kia Motors Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo, the Hyundai Motors Group investigation closed its first chapter, and the attention of the judiciary world is being shifted to the appointment of five Supreme Court justices scheduled for July.

The upcoming Supreme Court justice appointment is rising as the greatest issue since the appointment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Lee Yong-hun in September 2005, because it can influence not only the direction of the Supreme Court but also the entire country.

In July, Supreme Court justices Kang Shin-wook, Park Jae-yoon, Sohn Ji-yeol, Lee Kang-kook, and Lee Kyu-hong will retire.

Chief Justice Lee has to nominate candidates for the five spots until June and present the list to President Roh Moo-hyun for confirmation, and the Supreme Court plans to hold a Supreme Court Candidate Nomination Advisory Committee next week. It has been reported that the Supreme Court has already collected sufficient data from potential candidates and reviewed them considerably.

Demands balance regions, specialties—

Potential candidates to fill Justice Kang’s spot, who is a former prosecutor, include Vice Minister of Justice Kim Hee-ok, a former prosecutor who passed the 18th Korean bar exam, and Legal Research and Training Institute President Hong Kyung-sik.

Seoul National University Law Professor Yang Chang-soo is also being mentioned as a very strong potential candidate from the academic world. If Professor Yang is appointed to Supreme Court justice, it will be the first time that an academic has taken that spot.

It has been reported that the chief justice is very determined to include an academic in the upcoming personnel appointment. Another Seoul National University Law Professor Yoon Jin-soo is also being referred to as a potential candidate from the academic field.

Changwon District Court Chief Justice Kim Jong-dae is also a very strong candidate from the regional district court chiefs. Having passed the 17th bar exam, the same President Roh passed, and a being member of the “Eight Member Club,” might act both as a pro and con.

Weight Placed on “Traditional Justice” Demands—

There are strong opinions that besides the consideration of diversity of justices, importance should be placed on increasing the number of “traditional justices” that have stepped the traditional elite course inside court.

In this aspect, Seoul District Court Chief Justice Lee Hong-hun is a potential candidate with various strong points.

There are different opinions on the remaining one seat, asking, “What type of person will it be,” rather than, “Who will it be?” Opinions diverge inside court whether it should be a traditional justice or a female justice.

If a traditional justice is emphasized, Daegu Supreme Court Chief Justice Kim Jin-ki is a likely candidate, as well as Office of Court Administration Deputy Director Mok Young-joon.

If a female justice is preferred, Gwangju District Court Chief Justice Jeon Soo-ahn is a likely candidate. The president of the Korean Women Lawyers Association Kim Deok-hyun, who participated in the government defense team on the case dealing with President Roh’s impeachment, is also a potential candidate.

Ji-Seong Jeon verso@donga.com