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Moon reaffirms prosecution reform with collective responsibility

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in on Monday stressed the need for prosecution reform again, calling on the Ministry of Justice and the prosecutors’ office to cooperate with each other. 

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

Speaking at an official briefing, Moon said that the two organizations must cooperate and fulfill the people’s expectations. At the briefing session, attended by Minister of Justice Cho Kuk, the president also asked Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl to quickly draw up reform plans.

Moon stressed that the government must be “humble before the people,” going on to emphasize a particular need for more control over government bodies that wield excessive power.

“Powerful organizations need to be subjected to stronger democratic controls,” Moon said. In Korea, government organizations with the authority to conduct investigations such as the police, prosecutors’ office and the tax agency are referred to as “powerful organizations.”

While Moon approved of prosecution reform measures reported by Cho, he asked him to supplement the plans by working with the civic society and prosecution, and to hold off implementing them until the probe of allegations involving his family is over.

Changes Cho suggested include strengthening the prosecutions’ Criminal Trial and Civil Litigation Department and the Criminal Department, while revising regulations on the prosecution’s public relations -- in particular regarding conditions for disclosing information on a suspect’s wrongdoings. “However, if the plans are confirmed and executed, it could cause a misunderstanding that (the changes) are limiting the investigation,” Moon said, referring to the probe of Cho’s family.

A number of his family members and their associates are currently under investigation over a string of allegations including forgery and shady investments.

“With regards to reforming the legal system, the Justice Ministry must take the lead, and the prosecution must head the (reform of) investigation customs and in-house culture,” Moon said, saying that both must work together to execute the reform plans.

“Therefore (I) order the prosecutor general. Pay heed to the people’s calls for reforms, and collect diverse opinions such as those of young and female prosecutors, and officials from the criminal and trial departments, to quickly draw up plans to make (the prosecution) a power organization trusted by the people.”

By Choi He-suk (