News of embattled Justice Minister Cho Kuk’s resignation on Monday did little to close the stark gap between liberals and conservatives still unwilling to conciliate their opposing views on the former justice minister’s appointment.
Liberals expressed appreciation for Cho’s efforts to carry out prosecutorial reforms.
“It is highly regrettable that Cho resigned before finishing his promised reforms,” said Hong Ik-pyo, a spokesman for the ruling Democratic Party.
“Despite mounting difficulties, Cho has done a superb job of putting reforms into action to this point,” Hong added.
Yoo Sang-jin, a spokesman for the progressive Justice Party, offered similar remarks.
“We highly praise Cho’s efforts in prosecutorial reforms, and he has laid a stepping stone for future reforms to take place,” he said.
The conservative bloc hailed Cho’s resignation.
“Albeit a little late, his resignation is a natural course of action,” said Na Kyung-won, floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, addressing reporters at the National Assembly after Cho’s resignation.
She stepped up the rhetoric, saying “the Moon administration should apologize to the public for wreaking the public division with Cho’s appointment as justice minister.”
She also urged the prosecution to continue its probe into the various allegations against Cho’s family, regardless of his resignation.
Minor conservative Bareunmirae Party Floor Leader Oh Shin-hwan struck a similar chord.
In a statement on Facebook, he said, “Cho’s resignation doesn’t mean an end but a beginning,” and blamed President Moon Jae-in for causing public division.
Conservative civic groups also voiced similar sentiments, but on different grounds.
Kim Sang-jin, president of conservative Freedom Solidarity, said: “Cho’s prosecutorial reforms are nothing new. In fact, the so-called reforms under the Moon administration are only going backward and not forward.”
He drew on his personal experience, saying: “I have been raided by the prosecution myself, with my cellphone seized under warrant. But the court has blocked the prosecution’s attempt to seize Cho’s cellphone. Why? The court must see to an impartial probe into Cho.”
By Choi Si-young (email@example.com