Geum Yi

Prosecution chief pledges efforts for ‘bold’ reform of prosecution

October 17, 2019
Prosecutor-General Yoon Seok-youl answers questions from lawmakers during a parliamentary audit of the prosecution's office on Oct. 17, 2019. (Yonhap)

Prosecutor-General Yoon Seok-youl answers questions from lawmakers during a parliamentary audit of the prosecution’s office on Oct. 17, 2019. (Yonhap)

Prosecutor-General Yoon Seok-youl vowed Thursday to push for “bold” reform of the prosecution to meet the people’s expectations following the resignation of the justice minister who led a drive for the overhaul.

“We are well aware that voices calling for changes in the prosecution are louder than ever,” Yoon said during a parliamentary audit.

“I will faithfully accept the people’s will and decisions by the National Assembly and boldly push for reform measures that the prosecution can take on its own,” he added.

Yoon’s remarks appear aimed at dispelling concerns that the government’s drive to reform the prosecution may lose steam with the abrupt resignation of Justice Minister Cho Kuk.

Cho, a key architect of President Moon Jae-in’s vision to reform the agency, stepped down on Monday after weeks of street protests for and against his appointment. He quit roughly one month after the appointment on Sept. 9.

Cho’s family is under investigation by the prosecution over allegations of document forgery and financial problems.

Last week, Cho unveiled a set of measures to reform the prosecution that focus on improving the practice of probes and prioritizing human rights.

Under the measures, the government will push to abolish special investigative units of the prosecution that mostly focus on high-profile corruption crimes in all prosecution offices across the country, except for three major ones.

President Moon earlier ordered the prosecution to map out its internal reform measures in what was effectively a warning message to Yoon against the probe into Cho’s family.

Since then, Yoon unveiled the prosecution’s own reform measures, under which it will improve disputed practices, including public summoning, photo line establishment and releasing probe details.

The ruling Democratic Party (DP), which earlier defended Yoon as a figure fit to lead the prosecution and the reform, switched its stance after the prosecution launched its probe into Cho’s family in late August.

During the audit session, the party called on Yoon to listen to criticism about what supporters of Cho called an excessive probe.

But the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), which opposed Yoon’s appointment, is now supporting him and the prosecution’s ongoing investigation.

“We will conduct the probe in a way that can proceed as swiftly as possible,” Yoon said. “We will investigate the allegations by taking into account the laws and principles.”