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Supporters of justice minister to hold rally, demanding reform of prosecution

Activists and citizens plan to hold a rally in southern Seoul on Saturday to support Justice Minister Cho Kuk and his drive to reform the prosecution amid a probe into corruption allegations surrounding his family.

A candlelight vigil is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at an intersection by Seocho Station where the prosecution's office is located for the third such weekly rally.

Participants are expected to condemn the prosecution's widening probe into Cho's family as an attempt to deter the minister from reforming the elite investigation agency.

They will make a joint call for comprehensive reforms of the prosecution, including the establishment of an independent unit to probe corruption allegations by high-ranking public officials.

Activists in support of Justice Minister Cho Kuk gather in front of the prosecutors' office in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul, on Saturday. (Yonhap)
Activists in support of Justice Minister Cho Kuk gather in front of the prosecutors' office in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul, on Saturday. (Yonhap)
The scheduled rally comes two days after supporters of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and conservatives critical of liberal President Moon Jae-in took to the streets in downtown Seoul, calling for the minister's removal from office.

The ruling Democratic Party voiced support for the planned rally, calling it a voluntary move encapsulating citizens'

aspirations for the revamp of the prosecution.

"There should be a reform of the prosecution that well reflects such citizens' hopes," party spokesman Hong Ik-pyo said in a commentary.

Despite the display of support, ruling party lawmakers appeared cautious about their participation in the vigil as it could give ammunition for the opposition bloc's political attacks and further escalate partisan confrontation.

The LKP upped its offensive, casting the vigil as a polarizing event that the ruling bloc influenced to effectively defend the embattled justice minister.

The allegations centering on Cho include his wife's suspected forgery of a college presidential citation and his family's dubious investment in a private equity fund.

Cho, a former presidential secretary for civil affairs, was appointed as justice minister on Sept. 9 despite objections from the LKP and other critics.

The controversy surrounding Cho has deepened divisions in the country and emerged as a key political issue that may affect next year's general elections.

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) and supporters of Cho view the prosecution's investigation as a politically charged one, while the LKP has called for his dismissal.

The number of participants in separate rallies has been the subject of political dispute.

An organizer of last weekend's rally claimed around 2 million people gathered in the capital city of 10 million people to voice the need for prosecution reform.

The LKP insisted 3 million people took part in Thursday's demonstration to demand Cho's ousting. Conservative supporters also plan to hold a separate rally Saturday near the prosecution's office in southern Seoul. (Yonhap)