Go to contents

Chae Dong-wook nominated as prosecutor-general

Posted March. 15, 2013 21:42,   


Chae Dong-wook, chief prosecutor of the Seoul High Public Prosecutors’ Office, has been nominated prosecutor-general. He is set to fill an important post that has remained vacant for 103 days since the prosecution`s first “internal feud” that erupted in December last year.

The prosecutorial sector has experienced a slew of twists and turns and twists before Chae`s nomination.

When Park Geun-hye was president-elect, rumors circulated that she considered Kim Hak-ui, former head of the Daejeon High Public Prosecutors’ Office, as a strong candidate for prosecutor-general. In an unexpected move, however, the candidate nomination committee under the Justice Ministry on Feb. 7 recommended three candidates, namely Chae; Kim Jin-tae, vice chief of the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office; and Soh Byeong-cheol, chief of the Daegu High Public Prosecutors’ Office.

Kim was lauded for restoring order in the prosecution as acting prosecutor-general after the internal feud, while Soh, a native of the Jeolla provinces, was considered better positioned to help achieve unity between regions and balance regional distribution of top government posts.

In contrast, Chae, 54, was reportedly facing the burden of responsibility for the internal feud in which prosecutors made a collective appeal to the then prosecutor-general. Chae took the lead in the conflict as vice chief of the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office.

A flurry of rumors and speculation ensued in and out of the prosecution, however, given the lack of nominee for more than a month. In the wake of Chae’s nomination, analysts say that after President Park appointed Kim as vice justice minister, she apparently accepted advice from her aides.

Prime Minister Chung Hong-won is known to have strongly recommended Chae to President Park. The Justice Ministry and prosecution seem to generally welcome Chae’s nomination as prosecutor-general.

A senior ministry official said, “(Chae) easily gets along with junior colleagues and is widely respected,” adding, “Not only prosecutors in charge of special investigations but also those in charge of investigation planning or public security generally welcome his nomination.”

Chae has built up a strong reputation in special investigations. While director of the special investigation department and an investigation planning officer with the Seoul District Public Prosecutors’ Office, he handled major cases including the shady public sale of the Good Morning City apartment complex, corruption involving Hyundai Motor, and the alleged firesale of Korea Exchange Bank to U.S. equity fund Lone Star and related tax evasion.

With ample experience in investigating major cases, he is said to have a strong analytic capacity and good judgment of a situation. His friendly personality has also won him many junior fellow prosecutors as allies.

Born in Seoul, Chae passed the 24th state bar exam and graduated from the Judicial Research and Training Institute. A graduate of the Seoul National University College of Law, he has headed the Miryang District Public Prosecutors’ Office; the narcotics division of the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office; the special investigation department II of the Seoul District Public Prosecutors’ Office; the Seosan branch of the Daejeon District Public Prosecutors’ Office.

He has also served as investigation planning officer at the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office; chief prosecutor of the Jeonju Public Prosecutors’ Office; legal affairs chief of the Justice Ministry; chief prosecutor of the Daejeon High Prosecutors’ Office; and chief prosecutor of the Seoul High Prosecutors’ Office.