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[Newsmaker] Cho Kuk’s wife denies allegations, to be summoned again

Parliamentary audit this week expected to be engulfed by corruption allegations surrounding Justice Minister Cho Kuk’s family

Chung Kyung-shim, the wife of scandal-ridden Justice Minister Cho Kuk, returned home near midnight Saturday after spending 15 hours at the prosecutor’s office for questioning over allegations she committed academic fraud and made a shady investment.

Cho Kuk (Yonhap)
Cho Kuk (Yonhap)

Chung, a professor at Dongyang University, returned home around 11:55 p.m. on Saturday night after the second round of questioning, and she will be summoned again for questioning at a later date, the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office said Sunday.

Chung, who was grilled Thursday for the first time, faces suspicions that she forged certificates for her daughter to help her university and medical school applications and that she was involved in operating a dubious private equity fund. She has reportedly denied the allegations.

She stayed at the prosecutors’ office for 15 hours, but was questioned for about two hours and 40 minutes, according to the prosecution.

Chung has been indicted on forgery charges, with her preparatory hearing scheduled for Oct. 18 at the Seoul Central District Court.

Meanwhile, political bickering between the ruling Democratic Party of Korea and the opposition bloc over the corruption allegations involving Cho’s family is again expected to dominate the parliamentary audit this week.

The parliamentary audit of the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office, whose special investigation units are conducting a far-reaching probe into Cho’s family, is scheduled for Monday.

The ruling party views the prosecution’s probe into Cho’s family as excessive and an act of rebellion against the Moon Jae-in administration’s judicial reform drive. The opposition parties demand Cho’s resignation over the corruption allegations and denounce the government for exerting pressure on the prosecution.

A power struggle between the prosecution and the Justice Ministry -- which oversees the personnel and administration of the prosecutors’ office -- is apparent, with prosecutors accelerating their probe into Cho’s family and Cho stepping up efforts to reform the law enforcement agency.

The Moon administration seeks to curb the power of the prosecution, which currently monopolizes the authority to open and close investigations as well as file charges.