Nepotism Scandal Engulfs Justice Minister Nominee

  • By Cho Yi-jun, Ahn, Lee Min-seok, Kim Kyeong-pil

    August 22, 2019 13:46

    Cho Kuk's appointment as Korea's next justice minister is becoming increasingly unlikely amid snowballing allegations that he wrangled preferential treatment for his children, adding to a series of corruption allegations.

    Both of his children went to prestigious high schools by special admission for those who have studied overseas for a certain time, and his daughter gained admission to top-ranked Korea University before going to medical school at Pusan National University, where she received a scholarship despite flunking twice.

    She was allegedly given special consideration there because her name was listed at the top of the authors of a research paper on pediatric pathology published by Dankook University in 2008, where she was an intern for two weeks while in high school.

    But it has now emerged that her name was belatedly added to the paper even though research had ended in June the previous year.

    Making matters worse is that Cho has presented himself as Mr. Clean and been a vocal critic of endemic nepotism in Korea's education system, at one point publicly claiming that he had told his children that scholarships should be only for those in real need.

    Justice minister nominee Cho Kuk arrives at his temporary office in Seoul on Wednesday to prepare for his parliamentary confirmation hearing.

    Cho came out fighting on Wednesday, dismissing the allegations as fake news and claiming his daughter "actively participated in the research and greatly helped in translating it into English" to earn her citation.

    Many are still unconvinced she could have found the time during her two-week internship, even supposing research had not already come to an end.

    Other allegations surround the process by which Cho, the son of a hapless construction magnate, avoided paying off his father's debt on inheriting his assets, and dubious investments by his family.

    Meanwhile Cho's son, who holds dual citizenship because he was born in the U.S., postponed his military service here five times, suggesting he may choose an American passport to avoid it altogether.

    Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday reiterated that it wants to give Cho a chance to defend himself in his confirmation hearing in the National Assembly, which has yet to be scheduled. The presidential office claimed some media agencies are "fanning speculation that is completely different from the facts" but did not say what they are.

    Alumni of Korea University, Cho's daughter's alma mater, decided to hold a candlelight protest at the university on Friday, while alumni of SNU, where Cho himself has taught, are planning a similar rally.

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