Government Supporters Rally In Seoul Over Beleaguered Minister

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Government supporters rally in Seoul over beleaguered minister Cho Kuk as he is pressurized to resign amid criminal investigation over financial crime

Written By Tanima Ray | Mumbai | Updated On:
South Korea

Pro-government demonstrators swarmed streets of Seoul on October 5, to voice their support for the country's Justice Minister Cho Kuk as he faces growing pressure to resign amid a criminal investigation into suspicions of financial crimes and academic favours surrounding his family. The move was a response to the battle cries of Moon's ruling Minjoo party and the president's unwavering support for Cho, see the ongoing investigation into Cho's family as an attack on the liberal Moon administration. The protesters believe that the pressure on Cho Kuk is deliberate as he has been considered a future presidential candidate. But the problem lies in the fact that his reform plans include curbing the powers of state prosecutors which has irked them.

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From the Protesters

"Protect Cho Kuk", "Reform the Prosection", read the placards held by protesters who occupied an avenue in front of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office. "The candles you hold today will lead us past the darkness. We will absolutely win," novelist Lee Woe-soo, a vocal supporter of Moon, said from a stage as the rally stretched into the evening. Another student alleged that the prosecutors were investigating despite a paucity of evidence and that Cho Kuk is the only person who can reform the prosecution. 

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Allegations on Cho's wife

The prosecutors for the second time this week summoned Cho's wife, Chung Kyung-shim, over suspicions of manipulating an award issued to her daughter from a university where she works as a professor. There are allegations that Cho's daughter received special treatment in her admissions to a top Seoul university and a Busan medical school. Cho's wife is also suspected of involvement in running a private-equity fund financed by Cho's family that allegedly made dubious investments while Cho served as Moon's secretary for civil affairs until July. A relative of Cho was also charged for fraud, embezzlement and attempting to destroy evidence linked to his management of the fund on Thursday.

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Powers given to prosecutors in South Korea

The incident comes as, in South Korea, prosecutors have exclusive authority to indict and seek warrants for criminal suspects and exercise control over police investigative activities. Prosecutors can also directly initiate criminal investigations even when there's no complaint. Experts said that past conservative governments have used the prosecution as a political tool to suppress opponents and carry out vendettas. Moon and his Government want to bring reforms to this.

(With inputs from Associated Press)

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