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Yoon Suk-yeol’s ‘wingman’ named justice minister

Han Dong-hoon (left) is seen shaking hands with then-Prosecutor General Yoon Suk-yeol on Feb. 13, 2020. (Yonhap)
Han Dong-hoon (left) is seen shaking hands with then-Prosecutor General Yoon Suk-yeol on Feb. 13, 2020. (Yonhap)

President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol on Wednesday picked his close associate and elite prosecutor Han Dong-hoon to lead the Ministry of Justice.

Han, 49, is known for leading the probes into corruption allegations against the conservative administrations of Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye during the early days of Moon Jae-in’s presidency as the head of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office’s anti-corruption department. 

After Moon gave Yoon the post of prosecutor general, Han was promoted and became the youngest-ever director of a prosecutors’ office.

Since taking on the probes on allegations surrounding Cho Kuk, a Moon confidant, and his family, however, Han was moved to a non-investigation post -- the deputy chief of the Judicial Research and Training Institute.

He told reporters outside the presidential transition committee’s office in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, that even if he is sworn into office as justice minister, he would not exercise the ministerial authority to direct investigations.

On the Democratic Party of Korea’s vow to exclude the prosecution from criminal investigations, he said such a bill would hurt the criminal justice system. This was evidenced by what he called almost a “uniform dissent” across those in legal professions and academic circles.

On being publicly known as having close ties to Yoon, he said throughout his time in public office he “has not counted on personal ties,” and he would not be receptive to partisan influences. He said he was confident his past records as a prosecutor show he has “not succumbed to pressures from the top.”

A tough confirmation hearing awaits the nominee, however, as a pick that faces opposition from the Democratic Party.

The liberal bloc’s accusations against Han that he colluded with reporters to forge a false accusation against Rhyu Si-min, turned out to be false, a two-year probe concluded last week.

By Kim Arin (
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Korea Herald daum