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Moon orders prosecution to draw up its own reform plan

President Moon Jae-in instructed South Korea's prosecution Monday to map out its own reform measures at an early date.

He issued the order on receiving a report from Justice Minister Cho Kuk on ways to reform the prosecution, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

Moon's move came after a massive street candlelight vigil on the weekend calling for prosecution reform, one of Moon's key campaign pledges.

Moon stressed that state prosecutors should actively join the reform drive on their own, urging them to present detailed measures as early as possible through internal discussions.

President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)

In a direct message to Prosecutor-General Yoon Seok-youl, the president said, "Listen to the voices of the people who demand the reform of the prosecution and provide a plan at an early date to become a power organization trusted by the people, gathering various opinions from young prosecutors, female prosecutors, prosecutors handling criminal cases and trial-related affairs and others within the prosecution."

He added, "While the independence of the prosecution's investigative rights has been greatly strengthened under our government, (many people point out that) there is a lack of improvement in the method of exercising prosecution rights, investigative practices and organizational culture."

South Korea has been embroiled in weeks of fierce political controversy over Moon's pick of Cho as justice minister.

Cho, a law professor and Moon's former presidential secretary for civil affairs, is known as an architect of the liberal Moon administration's far-reaching reform of the local law-enforcement system.

But Cho has come under harsh political attack over alleged ethical lapses and violations of the law involving his family, especially in connection with an investment in a private equity fund and his daughter's school admissions.

Cho's wife has been indicted on charges of forging a college president's citation for use in her daughter's medical school application.

State prosecutors have come under mounting public criticism as well over what critics call "excessive" use of their power and authority in looking into the scandal. Many believe that the prosecution is protesting Moon's reform drive and deliberately leaking information related to the probe into the Cho Kuk scandal to the media.

Last week, a team of investigators raided Cho's house in southern Seoul for 11 hours.

The raid sparked a massive candlelight vigil by angry Moon supporters calling for the prosecution reform in front of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office in southern Seoul on Saturday.

Organizers estimate the number of participants at 2 million people, while opposition lawmakers put the number at about 50,000. (Yonhap)