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Justice Minister denies alleged violations of military rules

Justice Minister denies alleged violations of military rules

Posted September. 14, 2020 07:34,   

Updated September. 14, 2020 07:34


South Korean Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae apologized on Sunday for the first time in nine months since allegations were made in December, that her son received special treatment during his mandatory military service at KATUSA in 2017.

However, Minister Choo made it clear that it was not against military rule and relevant law for her son, surnamed Seo, to take a 23-day-long leave. "My son did not hesitate to join the military although he received surgery on the left knee before military service. He did not want to get her mother embroiled in controversy,” said Choo. “The Korean military system was already well-prepared to take good care of troops with health issues. Military rules also advise soldiers to get as much treatment as possible.”

The Ministry of National Defense on Thursday issued a six-page-long statement that there was not any violation of military rules regarding Seo's leave, with which the justice minister's statement of apology is in line.

Minister Choo contended her innocence in a statement with 1,281 characters written in it by sharing the difficulties that she personally experienced. Back in 2004, she underwent severed pain in the legs after making a “three steps, one bow” in high-heeled shoes due to a backlash against her support for the impeachment of the late President Roh Moo-hyun. Added to this, she even mentioned a physical disability that her husband suffers. Nevertheless, her statement of apology did not include any clear explanation about critical issues regarding the special favor that Choo sought for her son.

“I have long tried not to show my personal stance because the last thing to do as minister of justice is to affect the prosecution investigation that is underway,” said Choo. “Lies and distortions may hide the truth for a while but they never go so long. The prosecution is working hard to investigate the suspicions of any violation of law and reveal the truth. All I can do is wait for the results.”

Minister Choo put emphasis on prosecution reform, a somewhat irrelevant issue to the ongoing controversy, at the end of the apology statement. “I feel predestined to do my utmost to achieve prosecution reform. It is a task that has to be undertaken according to the wishes of South Korean citizens,” said the justice minister with a strong determination to make it happen. Against this backdrop, there is some speculation in legal circles that the opposing party raises suspicion about Minister Choo’s son to hold back prosecution reform.

Seong-Ho Hwang hsh0330@donga.com