Moon turns down top prosecutor’s resignation

April 18, 2022

 President Moon Jae-in on Monday turned down the resignation offer by Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo in protest of the ruling Democratic Party’s push to strip the prosecution of its investigative powers, while calling for the prosecution to make more efforts to reform itself.

The request was made during a 70-minute meeting between Moon and Kim earlier in the day, presidential spokesperson Park Kyung-mee said in a statement.

Kim tendered his resignation Sunday in protest of the DP’s push for legislation that would leave the prosecution with no authority to conduct investigations on its own, as part of efforts to reform the powerful agency that has long been accused of abusing its power for political and other purposes.

During the meeting, Moon expressed his “trust” in Kim and asked him to complete his term, Park said.

Moon told Kim reforming the prosecution “should be for people, not for the prosecution and police, and so should the legislation of the National Assembly,” according to Park.

Moon’s remarks were seen as a message to urge the DP and the prosecution to deal with the matter from the perspective of the people, rather than the perspective of their stances.

After the meeting, Kim told reporters he withdrew his resignation offer, as he respected Moon’s decision.

Also, high-ranking prosecutors said they will make more efforts to explain about controversial matters of the DP’s legislative push at the National Assembly under the leadership of Kim.

Moon meets top prosecutor

President Moon Jae-in (R) shakes hands with Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on April 18, 2022, in this photo provided by the presidential office. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Before offering to resign, Kim had earlier requested a meeting with Moon, though no meeting took place.

A presidential official explained that Moon did not accept the resignation because the prosecutor general’s term is guaranteed and because he wants to hear Kim’s opinions as the head of the executive branch.

Kim, who was appointed by Moon, has more than a year left in his two-year term. His resignation offer came less than a month before Moon is set to leave office at the end of his five-year term.

Moon’s decision is seen as an attempt to stop the row between the prosecution and his party from escalating.

Under his administration, the prosecution’s investigations have been reduced to six categories of crimes, with the rest being assigned to the police and the newly established Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials.

After Kim requested a meeting with the president last week, a Cheong Wa Dae official suggested the issue should be discussed with the National Assembly, saying, “Now is the time for legislation.”

DP Rep. Park Ju-min, chairperson of a subcommittee under the parliamentary legislation and judiciary committee, convened a subcommittee meeting Monday to begin deliberations on the proposed revisions to the Prosecutor’s Office Act and the Criminal Procedure Act.

Although the proposed revisions were brought to the subcommittee for deliberation, there was no procedure of discussions about them.

The DP’s aim is to pass both amendments during April’s parliamentary session and promulgate them into law during the Moon administration’s last Cabinet meeting on May 3.

“If we don’t get it passed in April, we believe we won’t get another chance in the future,” Park Hong-keun, the DP floor leader, told reporters Monday.

“Everything has to align, from a government that won’t exercise its veto, to the number of parliamentary seats that will enable passage through the National Assembly,” he said.

The main opposition People Power Party expressed outrage.

“Directly forwarding a bill (to a subcommittee) is not in line with procedures,” PPP Rep. Yoo Sang-bum, a ranking member of the legislation committee, told Yonhap News Agency by phone. “I’m furious at the way the Democratic Party is taking steps to ram it through.”