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`Different path` between junior minister and senior prosecutor general

`Different path` between junior minister and senior prosecutor general

Posted June. 20, 2015 08:37,   


It is said that Kim Hyeon-ung, chief prosecutor of the Supreme Prosecutors` Office is waiting to be announced as minister of Justice after the newly-appointed Prime Minister of Hwang Gyo-ahn. The presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae plans to announce the ministerial appointment in a day or two once Prime Minister Hwang made his recommendation. Chief prosecutor Kim used to be a vice minister for a year and two months when Hwang was working as a minister. He is the son of Kim Soo, a former lawmaker of the Republican Party who was elected as an independent in Goheung-Boseong in South Jeolla Province.

As Chief Prosecutor Kim passed a bar examination two years after Kim Jin-tae, public prosecutor general, there are much talks about the Kim`s future. However, it’s highly unlikely that the newly-appointed minister Kim would let go of the public prosecutor general.

Since 1988 when the term limit system for public prosecutor general was adopted, only six have finished their terms out of 18 sworn prosecutor generals. Majority of prosecution insiders argues that the term limit system which is meant to guarantee political neutrality should be observed. The current prosecutor general is also firm to complete his term.

The presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae had searched for the successive minister among prosecutors who are a senior of the prosecutor general to no avail. Of the candidates, those who have been employed in large-sized law firms or opened their own business as lawyers are not free from the controversy of giving privilege based on previous career. Most of them turned out to make a lot more money than lawyer-turned Prime Minister Hwang who had a hard time during a public hearing. Under the Park Geun-hye administration, Kim is the first justice minister to be appointed who is from Jeolla Province.

Kim’s term ends on December 1 this year. Some say that he will not be removed as there is political burden. If he completes his term, his successor will have to be appointed immediately before 2017 presidential election, which is groundless. The Cheong Wa Dae has already explained to Kim why it had to select his junior, meaning that Kim’s future has already been determined.

Under the Roh Moo-hyun administration, Kang Geum-sil who was 10-year younger than Song Gwang-su, then prosecutor general and 3-year younger Cheon Jeong-bae than Kim Jong-bin, then prosecutor general were appointed as ministers ahead of their seniors. Another example includes Lee Gwi-nam who was a year younger than Kim Jun-gyu under the Lee Myung-bak administration. Out of these, only former minister Cheon and former prosecutor Kim conflicted over arrest investigation of professor Kang Jeong-gu of Dongguk University. In the end, Cheon initiated an investigation command under the order of Cheong Wa Dae. Kim resigned six months after his taking office as a statement of protest. Under the Kim Young-sam administration, then prosecutor general Kim Gi-soo voluntarily stepped down with only one month left to complete his term when his one-year junior was appointed as a minister.

The ruling and opposition parties agreed improve public hearing system in a way to enhance its supervision over giving someone a privilege based on his or her previous post. Under the circumstances, more politicians could be appointed as a justice minister and more juniors could be appointed as the minister ahead of their seniors.

“It is not the matter of a junior overtaking a senior in an appointment. The roles and responsibilities of the minister and prosecutor general are fundamentally different, which should be made clear,” a senior legal profession reckoned. It means that ministers under the order of the presidential office have their own ways while prosecutor generals under the mission of political neutrality and investigation independence have their own ways, too. When the final investigation results of “Seong Wan-jong list” come out, the prosecution would have no choice but to face with the criticism of “stretching the rule.” By now, public prosecutor general Kim would not feel at ease.