SEOUL, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Justice Minister nominee Cho Kuk on Thursday expressed his firm will not to succumb to growing demand by opposition parties to step down amid snowballing corruption allegations involving his daughter.
Cho faces public criticism over allegations that his 28-year-old daughter might have received preferential treatment over college admission with a controversial academic paper.
Spurning growing calls by conservative opposition parties to step down, Cho said he will clarify all allegations at a parliamentary confirmation hearing.
"My family members and I should have behaved more prudently, given the heavy social benefits bestowed to us," Cho told reporters.
"I will not sit idle on this issue by saying that there was no problem legally. I will willingly accept the public's harsh criticism," he said.
A series of scandals ranging from academics-related allegations about Cho's daughter and his dubious hefty investment in a private equity fund to his previous involvement in a left-leaning group have made headlines since his nomination in a Cabinet shakeup on Aug. 9.
In particular, the allegations linked to his daughter hit a public nerve in a country where college admission is a sensitive issue.
His daughter was listed as a primary writer for a pathology paper published in a renowned medical journal when she took part in a two-week internship at a medical science institute in 2008 as a high school student. Critics speculate that the paper may have helped her enroll in Korea University in 2010.
She also received scholarships worth $9,928 at a medical school in 2016-2018 though she failed twice.
Cho, former presidential secretary for civil affairs, called the allegations raised about his daughter "fake news."
Students of Seoul National University and Korea University said they will hold a candlelight vigil on their campuses Friday to protest against the illegal college admission allegations of his daughter. Cho is a law professor at SNU.
"A series of allegations in regard to Cho raises questions about whether he is qualified as a professor, not alone his qualifications as justice minister nominee," an SNU student said.
Some angry students likened his daughter's case to a high-profile illegal college entrance scandal involving the daughter of Choi Soon-sil, a longtime confidante of the now-jailed former President Park Geun-hye.
Choi was found guilty of peddling influence with Ewha Womans University to give undue favors to her daughter Chung Yoo-ra, using her ties with the former president.
"If any illegality is confirmed, the undergraduate degree of Cho's daughter should be also revoked," a Korea University student said.
Political parties continued to wrangle over the assessment of Cho's qualifications, with the ruling Democratic Party insisting that a confirmation hearing should be held by a legal deadline that falls on Aug. 30.
But the main opposition Liberty Korea Party warned that it could push for a special council's investigation or a parliamentary probe into Cho if he is appointed as justice minister.
President Moon Jae-in's nomination of Cho reflects his unwavering commitment to carrying out the reform of the prosecution.
At the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, Cho was behind drawing up proposals to set up an independent unit to probe corruption allegations by high-ranking officials and to give police bigger authority to conduct probes.