As Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo tendered his letter of resignation on Sunday, President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol is set to speed up the nomination of prosecutor-general candidates. As soon as Kim’s resignation is accepted, Yoon will reportedly start consulting with Justice Minister nominee Han Dong-hoon to search for the next prosecutor general.
Previously President-elect Yoon concluded that he would not mention candidates for the next prosecutor general. “President-elect Yoon himself has strong belief that he failed to complete his two-year term due to pressure from the Moon Jae-in administration,” a close aide to Yoon said. “President-elect Yoon’s mentioning potential candidates in itself could be seen as exerting pressure on Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo to resign.”
However, the situation has changed as the incumbent prosecutor general tendered his letter of resignation. It has become okay for Yoon to single out prosecutor general nominee before his inauguration on May 10. When Yoon picked Han as justice minister nominee, he reportedly shortlisted candidates for prosecutor general as well.
“Since President-elect Yoon himself is well aware of the situation in the prosecution, he could have someone in mind as prosecutor general (candidate),” a close aide to Yoon said. “He will make final decision after discussing with Justice Minister nominee Han.” According to the Public Prosecution Act, the justice minister is required to recommend prosecutor general candidate to the president-elect after receiving nomination from the prosecutor general nomination committee.
People inside and outside the prosecution predict senior prosecutors who have a similar duration of service in prosecution with Han and who has strong experience in special investigation will most likely be singled out as prosecutor general nominee. Senior prosecutors who are mentioned include Park Chan-ho, chief of the Gwangju District Public Prosecutors’ Office who led the investigation into the case of presidential office’s meddling in the Ulsan mayoral election, and Lee Won-seok, chief of the Jeju District Public Prosecutors Office who took charge of investigation into the case of manipulation of state affairs (during the Park Geun-hye administration).
Cho Sang-joon, who served as deputy prosecutor general at the Seoul High Prosecutors Office, is another potential candidate. Cho assisted Yoon as the chief of the criminal department at the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office when Yoon was serving as prosecutor general during 2019-2020, and reportedly supported Yoon during the presidential campaign. Cho and Han also worked together many times while serving as senior prosecutors at the Justice Ministry, the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office and the Seoul Central District Public Prosecutors’ Office.
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