Cho Kuk Finally Resigns Amid Massive Protests

  • By Jeong Woo-sang

    October 15, 2019 09:34

    Justice Minister Cho Kuk finally stepped down on Monday, just 35 days after taking office as public anger grew and criminal investigations threaten to engulf his entire family.

    President Moon Jae-in had mysteriously bulldozed Cho's appointment through despite massive protests amid allegations of wrongdoing by his wife and other members of his family. His confirmation hearing only deepened suspicions, and irregularities in his daughter's admission to several top schools look like an open-and-shut case.

    Justice Minister Cho Kuk speaks at a press conference to announce a proposal for prosecution reform at the government complex in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province on Monday. /Yonhap

    Nonetheless Cho clung on stubbornly until street protests swelled into the millions, and vowed to reform the very prosecution that was investigating him and his family for corruption, malfeasance and dodgy financial dealings.

    But on Monday, the same day Cho's wife Chung Kyung-shim was questioned a fifth time for forging documents to ease their daughter's college admission, Moon finally accepted Cho's resignation.

    Cho tendered his resignation on Monday afternoon, just three hours after he held a press conference announcing plans to overhaul the state prosecution system focusing on weakening a special investigative unit that had been criticized for often abusing its power for political reasons.

    Justice Minister Cho Kuk (center) talks to reporters after his resignation in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province on Monday. /Newsis

    Cho in a lachrymose statement apologized for the scandal but claimed he "endured each day under the firm will to complete my final duty as minister to reform the prosecution."

    He added, "My entire family has been wrecked and it was personally very difficult and painful."

    During a meeting of his chief secretaries, Moon also apologized for causing conflict among the public but still praised Cho's role in initiating persecution reforms. He also vowed to push ahead with the reforms, despite fears that this could deter prosecutors from the ongoing investigation of Cho and his family.

    Moon's own approval rating plummeted to just 40 percent over the scandal.

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