An intensive investigation into multiple allegations against Justice Minister nominee Cho Kuk has led Cheong Wa Dae to lock horns with the prosecution.
On Friday, a Cheong Wa Dae official said the prosecution raids on dozens of locations connected to the embattled justice minister nominee and his family were “politically motivated” and amounted to “plotting a rebellion.”
The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office had called on Cheong Wa Dae and the ruling party to stop meddling in the investigation on Thursday evening.
President Moon Jae-in nominated Cho, a former senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, as the next justice minister Aug. 9, seeing him as the right person to move forward with the reform of the prosecution.
Since then, an array of allegations have arisen concerning Cho Kuk and his wife, Chung Kyung-sim, a professor at Dongyang University. The two have been accused of dishonest behavior to help their daughter inflate her resume to gain admission to university and medical school.
Chung is alleged to have tried to cover up evidence that she forged a certificate of recognition, issued in 2012 under the university president’s name, concerning her daughter’s volunteer work at the school’s English education center. The certificate was later used when the daughter sought admission to Pusan National University’s medical school.
Before Choi Sung-hae, president of Dongyang University, was questioned by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office on Thursday, Cho and his wife had asked him to tell the prosecution that he had entrusted her with the authority to issue the certificate.
In a move that could be seen as an attempt to destroy evidence, Chung asked her private banker to remove her computer from her office at the university before prosecution raided the location.
Later Thursday, a Cheong Wa Dae official said in a media interview that a professor who recommended issuing the certificate had been found and that related allegations would be clarified at the upcoming hearing.
Following the publication of the interview, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office told reporters that the remarks were “very inappropriate” and could be seen as “intervention in the investigation.”
Also on Thursday, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon criticized the prosecution for conducting an extensive investigation ahead of a parliamentary confirmation hearing.
“I think that the prosecution should only speak the truth. Attempting to do all politics is beyond the scope of the prosecution,” he said.
By Park Han-na (firstname.lastname@example.org