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South Korea's Moon Jae-in taps progressive ally for justice minister post

By
Elizabeth Shim
Rep. Choo Mi-ae of the ruling Democratic Party speaks to reporters at the National Assembly on Thursday. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE
Rep. Choo Mi-ae of the ruling Democratic Party speaks to reporters at the National Assembly on Thursday. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

Dec. 5 (UPI) -- A prominent South Korean lawmaker -- one of the few women in the National Assembly -- has been nominated to the position of justice minister following scandals that culminated in the resignation of Cho Kuk.

Choo Mi-ae, a former judge who led the ruling Democratic Party from 2016 to 2018, was nominated for the position, Yonhap reported Thursday.

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Choo was nominated for her commitment to the reform of the country's prosecution, according to local television network JTBC.

South Korean prosecutors recently raided the presidential Blue House as part of investigations into Cho, the former justice minister who resigned over family-related corruption allegations. Cho was the top presidential secretary for civil affairs.

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On Thursday the Blue House told reporters Choo was nominated because she has demonstrated "strong beliefs" in judicial reform that could make major changes in the nation's prosecution.

If Choo is appointed justice minister, she is expected to target chief prosecutor Yoon Seok-youl, also a Moon nominee, who has said he is "not loyal to anyone."

Following the raid, the Blue House is distancing itself from investigations.

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The president's office is denying it played a role in investigating the political opposition in the city of Ulsan, where the mayor of the opposition Liberty Korea Party was defeated in 2018.

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Local television network MBC reported Thursday LKP lawmakers are accusing the Blue House of interfering in local elections. The conservatives are demanding investigations into Cho, Cho's colleague Baek Won-woo, and current Ulsan Mayor Song Cheol-ho of the ruling Democratic Party.

Hwang Kyo-ahn, leader of the conservatives, said Thursday the Blue House is "deceiving the people, and lying."

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"The truth is the Blue House mobilized police, and they campaigned under the Blue House's command," Hwang said, according to MBC.

The president's office has denied links to a report showing involvement in the Ulsan mayoral race.

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