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Sun Jul 12, 2020, 04:35 PM

South Korea's Prosecutor General "waves the white flag?"


(Source-YTN 뉴있저, 7.9.20) Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-yeol v. Justice Minister Chu Mi-ae. Yoon finally raises the white flag; Chu regrets missing her chance. The graphic depicts the chronology of the showdown over the disputed investigation of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office into the so called press prosecution collusion scandal:

July 2: Minister Chu gives notice that investigative command powers are withdrawn (from Yoon).

July 8 (am): Minister Chu gives final notice to Prosecutor General Yoon- "your response is requested by tomorrow morning at 10:00.

July 8 (pm): Yoon submits a proposal for an independent investigation office. Chu rejects Yoon's compromise proposal

July 9 The Prosecutor General accedes to the Justice Ministers command.

In the immediate case under investigation, a senior prosecutor, Han Dong-hun, close to Prosecutor General Yoon, allegedly colluded with Channel A News reporter Lee Dong-jae, to support a prosecution for political purposes by soliciting false testimony. Prosecutor General Yoon has been interfering in the conduct of the investigation by the Seoul Central District Prosecutor's Office investigative team. He attempted to have a division of his office supervise the investigation and then diverted the investigation for consideration by a so called board of experts. Justice Minister Chu's actions to remove Yoon's influence over the investigation, were based on legal authority reported to have been put in place on January 28, 2020, by the former Justice Minister Cho Guk, who was working to implement the democratic party's legal reform measures promoted by the Moon administration. Yoon had no other apparent options left, other than compliance as he could have been fired for insubordination. Thus far, President Moon has refrained from directing Yoon's removal without a clear cut foundation in the law. YTN presented differing opinions on whether Minister Chu actually wanted to remove Yoon. Certainly, that involves a political as well legal calculation. Such may be forthcoming at a later date as the alleged improper activities of the prosecutor's offices, hopefully, will now be subjected to unimpeded scrutiny.

It is somewhat amusing to consider that in political circles some had discussed the possibility that Yoon allowed this protracted public dispute with the Justice Minister to serve as a platform for a future presidential candidacy. YTN analyst Lee Dong-hyung suggested his leadership has been weakened by the ongoing dispute. Yoon's position had been shaken despite his arrogant assertion recently that it takes a lot to move his one hundred kilogram plus body. This is almost as poorly formulated a strategy as those of Hwang Kyo-ahn and Na Kyung-won before the April 15 elections whose transparently confrontational and poorly considered tactics earned them and their party a disastrous outcome at the polls. Yoon's stubborn recalcitrance and insubordination have only earned more public distrust, as one speculates on his motives to interfere with the investigation of press-prosecution collusion. Yoon's motivation for not resigning at this point is regarded simply as pride and ambition by some observers. Alternately, he can remain as the point man for the right in the daily news cycle, and also attempt to indirectly influence outcomes as to the prosecutors from his inner circle who might be subject to investigation at some future point. Nevertheless, the YTN analyst contended that the issues underlying the power struggle between Yoon and Justice Minister Chu began as a partisan issue, and the ultimate results of the investigation will be viewed from the same partisan perspective. The right will criticize any unfavorable outcome as the result of political bias, and there will be continuing partisan resistance on the right to legal reform of the residual corrupt practices affecting the administration of justice in South Korea.

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