Justice Minister's Wife Questioned Again

  • By Yoon Ju-heon, Lee Dong-hwi

    October 07, 2019 12:06

    Justice Minister Cho Kuk's wife Chung Kyung-shim was questioned again by prosecutors on Saturday, and once again she enjoyed special treatment by being spirited in by the back door to avoid the press.

    And while Chung spent some 15 hours in the prosecutor's office, actual questioning lasted only two hours and 40 minutes and she spent the rest reviewing her testimony, eating and resting.

    Chung faces a dozen charges ranging from forging documents to finagle her daughter's admission to prestigious schools to violating laws on financial investments. But prosecutors have apparently completed questioning her on less than half of the charges.

    Prosecutors said they will summon her again.

    Demonstrators are divided into two groups –- for and against Justice Minister Cho Kuk –- at a rally in Seocho-dong near the Seoul Central Prosecutors' Office in the capital on Saturday.

    Chung had been scheduled to appear on Friday but failed to show up citing health problems. Her lawyers said she is suffering from "serious headaches and dizziness" due to an injury suffered when she fell from a building running away from a burglar in her student days in the U.K.

    They also claimed Chung is blind in her right eye since an accident at the age of six, making it difficult for her to be questioned for long hours. But her disability is not debilitating and has little effect on everyday activities -- she has a driving license and drives regularly.

    All suspects can ask for an interview to be halted for health reasons, but legal experts say the justice minister's wife is the first to take all the advantage of revised prosecution regulations. They suspect she is trying to stall by calling it quits in the middle of an uncomfortable line of questioning.

    President Moon Jae-in in an unsubtle hint has warned prosecutors not to "abuse their powers" as his unpopular choice for justice minister endures increasing scrutiny.

    Meanwhile, the couple's daughter Cho Min (28) appeared on a radio program hosted by pro-Moon columnist Kim Ou-joon and said she felt as if "my whole family is being preyed upon by the news media" and added that coverage has been "rather vicious."

    Asked how she feels about the possibility of her admission to Korea University being annulled over irregularities, she said, "I would feel falsely accused. But I can retake my [college entrance] exam and I could become a doctor in my 40s if I can't become one in my 30s."

    This is the first time Cho's daughter has spoken to the media about the scandal. But she was unable to provide any evidence refuting charges that she was given undue preferential treatment by several universities.

    "They say my mother may be claiming to have done things she didn't do in order to protect me," she said but did not comment on suspicions that her mother forged a university dean's citation to spice up her resume.

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