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More than 4,000 academics call for prosecutorial reform, end to Cho Kuk probe

Thousands of South Korean academics on Thursday called to push through with prosecutorial reform, amid the prosecution’s ongoing investigation into Justice Minister Cho Kuk’s family.

A group, calling itself “Korea and Overseas University Researchers and Professors Urging Speedy Reform of the Prosecution,” held a press conference Thursday at the Busan City Hall building, releasing the names of more than 4,000 academics supporting the group’s call for prosecutorial reform.

Academics call for prosecutorial reform at the press briefing room in Busan City Hall on Thursday (Yonhap)
Academics call for prosecutorial reform at the press briefing room in Busan City Hall on Thursday (Yonhap)

“Fierce clashes have continued in recent months over the appointment of Justice Minister Cho Kuk, so ferocious that the urgent problem of prosecutorial reform has been set aside,” the association’s representative Kim Ho-beom, a Pusan National University professor, read from a statement issued in the group’s name.

“The prosecution is wielding an absolute power in our society,” he said, adding, “The reform cannot be postponed further, and we believe passively taking a neutral stance in this situation only means forgoing our own rights.”

The group stressed that the statement was not an expression of support for Cho.

“The key issue right now is not the problems stemming from Cho and his family,” Kim said. “Cho currently sits in a position that has the power to execute the reform. If someone else had taken the same position, we would have supported that person.”

Tongmyung University professor Kim Dong-kyu, the group’s spokesperson, said, “Cho is merely the means to achieve the task of revamping the prosecution’s uncontested power.”

During the press conference, the organization disclosed the list of the names of academics supporting the group’s statement. Over a five-day period, from Saturday to Wednesday, 6,120 signatures were gathered through an online petition, of which 4,090 have been confirmed valid through three stages of screening process, the group said.

By Choi Ji-won (