Blue House seeks sweeping reform of police, prosecution and spy agency

By Choi He-suk
  • Published : Jan 14, 2018 - 13:56
  • Updated : Jan 14, 2018 - 18:29
The National Intelligence Service will be stripped of its powers in domestic affairs and the prosecution’s investigative role will be reduced, the Moon Jae-in administration’s reform plans showed Sunday.

The measures are part of the Moon administration’s efforts to prevent abuse of power and friction among various government bodies with investigative powers -- the NIS, National Police Agency and Public Prosecutors’ Office.

The plans, revealed by Senior Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs Cho Kuk, also showed that committees will be launched to look into controversial cases and possible wrongdoings of the police agency and the public prosecutors’ office. 

Cho Kuk, the senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, announced the government`s measures to reform state investigation agencies Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. (Yonhap)

A similar committee on the NIS was launched almost immediately after Moon’s inauguration in May. The committee’s findings have sparked a number of investigations and controversies, including the NIS’ alleged embezzlement of its budget, allegedly under former President Park Geun-hye’s instructions.

“Even after democratization, organs of state power have opposed the people for their interests, and if these organizations had fulfilled their roles, the state affairs-meddling crisis would not have happened,” Cho said, referring to the corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye. He said that the new administration’s reform plans are aimed at recreating the organizations to serve the people.

In an attempt to address such alleged irregularities, the administration plans to reduce the prosecution’s investigative powers and its influence within the Ministry of Justice.

In addition, a long-discussed “high-level civil servant investigation body” will be established to take over related functions from the prosecutors’ office.

The NIS, another government agency that has wielded power unchecked, will be restructured to focus on North Korea and overseas-related issues, the plans showed.

As for the National Police Agency, it will take the lead in investigating crimes. Under the current system, the prosecution has both powers of investigation and indictment. The prosecution also has authority over the police in investigation. Such a power structure has long been a source of friction between the two organizations.

The plans would see the National Police Agency subdivided into three organizations. The agency’s roles concerning public security and intelligence gathering on a national level will be given to a body tasked with general police functions. The agency’s investigative functions will be given to the tentatively named National Investigation Bureau, while a third body will take over the NIS’ role in tracking North Korean sympathizers in the country.

In addition, provincial police agencies that come under the administration of metropolitan mayors and provincial governors will be tasked with maintaining public security and gathering intelligence in their jurisdictions. The provincial agencies will have some investigative powers in specific areas such as sex crimes and domestic violence, Cho said.  

By Choi He-suk (