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South Korea's Moon Jae-in raises concerns over divisive protests

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korea's Moon Jae-in raises concerns over divisive protests
South Korean conservatives have voiced their opposition to the policies of President Moon Jae-in. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 7 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in criticized the growing division in his country following the controversial appointment of new Justice Minister Cho Kuk.

For the first time on Monday, Moon publicly addressed the protests and counter-protests in Seoul that have grown since Cho's appointment, Yonhap reported.

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The South Korean leader said the "deepening opposition" between rival factions is "not desirable," and that the widening political rift is going beyond "productive discussions."

Conservative protesters, including members of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, have staged regular rallies in Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul following Cho's appointment.

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South Korean conservatives have demanded Cho step down, following allegations Cho and his spouse may have been involved in forging documents in order to help their daughter gain admission to medical school.

More recently, South Korean prosecutors began to investigate a private equity fund tied to Cho's family, following the arrest of a Cho relative who is suspected of operating the fund.

On Monday Moon said there are positive aspects to voicing concerns in a "representative democracy," referring to the demands of the position.

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But Moon also said reform of the South Korean prosecution is the most urgent task, according to Yonhap.

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"Despite a wide variety of opinions, the reform of the prosecution is urgent, and its reform is the will of the people," Moon said.

In September, South Korean prosecutors charged Cho's nephew with embezzlement, breach of trust, illicit transactions, false disclosure and incitement of tampering with evidence.

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Moon did not directly address the allegations surrounding Cho on Monday.

News 1 reported prosecutors have found more evidence of false disclosure. Cho's nephew is being accused of creating a fraudulent or fake $1.2 million consulting contract between his firm, Co-Link Private Equity, and Chung Kyung-shim -- Cho Kuk's spouse -- as well as her brother, only identified by his surname Cho, in order to guarantee their dividends from the fund.

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