President Moon Jae-in on Monday called on the government to step up efforts to complete the reform of the prosecutors’ office, police and state intelligence agency, saying that remaining tasks will require more effort despite the progress made so far.
“Our government‘s reform of the power institutions is making irreversible progress,” Moon said at the meeting with government and ruling Democratic Party officials including Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae, Interior and Safety Minister Chin Young and National Intelligence Service chief Park Jie-won.
“Now, we will have to work harder to complete the remaining tasks.”
The president pointed out a delay in the launch of a non-prosecution unit to specialize in probing corruption among high-level government officials despite the passage of a relevant bill.
He urged for cooperation with opposition parties on recommending candidates to lead the new agency.
He noted that it is a “very difficult” task to adjust the role and authority of the prosecution and police, as the government seeks to introduce an autonomous police system to be operated separately from the national police supervised by the central government.
Following the meeting, Choo, Chin and Park briefed the media on the progress their organizations have made and reform measures that will be put in place.
In the briefing, the NIS chief stressed that the spy agency will not meddle in domestic politics and that laws for preventing such actions will be put in place.
“(We) will make it clear legally that the NIS will never get involved in domestic politics under any circumstances,” Park told reporters.
Currently, a reform bill on the NIS’ operation is pending in the National Assembly, aiming at restricting the spy agency‘s involvement in domestic politics and transferring its investigative authority on espionage cases to other investigative agencies.
Park said that he will transfer the NIS’ authority in investigating espionage cases without any delay and realign his organization in a way not to cause any security vacuum for the nation in the process.
As for the Interior Minister, he revealed plans to strengthen the police agency’s independence and neutrality. Under the plans, the police commissioner’s authority to command specific investigations will be removed, and a new body will be established for conducting investigations relating to national security in preparation for taking over related duties of the NIS.
The ruling Democratic Party, meanwhile, is taking steps to bring about the establishment of the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials, or CIO.
During a meeting of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, a bill was introduced to adjust the composition of the nomination committee that will recommend candidates to head the new investigation agency to the president.
The bill proposed by Rep. Kim Yong-min of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea aims to enable the parliament to pick four people who will recommend the chief of the agency that will probe corruption among high-ranking civil servants.
According to the current law governing the CIO, the nomination committee is supposed to have seven members, with the minister of justice, minister of National Court Administration and president of the Korean Bar Association automatically included.
The current law stipulates that ruling and opposition parliamentary negotiating bodies appoint two members each.
The main opposition People Power Party has put a brake on the establishment of the agency, which was initially planned to be launched on July 15, by refusing to appoint its two committee members.
“We have to improve the structure that hinders the CIO from moving forward and that blocks it from launching due to political dispute,” Rep. Kim said of the bill he proposed.
By Park Han-na (firstname.lastname@example.org