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Time to face the music (KOR)

Aug 27,2019
According to a JoongAng Ilbo survey, six out of 10 people do not want Cho Kuk to be justice minister. In the survey, 60.2 percent of respondents opposed his appointment as justice minister while only 27.2 percent endorsed it. Those in their 20s are the most disapproving, at 68.6 percent. The young have been outraged by the two-faced justice minister nominee from a government that champions justice and fairness.

Even those who call themselves “progressive” disapprove of Cho and his family for their hypocritical way of life, with 47.9 percent opposing his nomination, while 44.9 percent approve of it. The disapproval ratio was 62.9 percent in Busan, Ulsan and South Gyeongsang — one of them a potential constituency for Cho if he runs in next general election. In another poll conducted by Research Korea and KBS, the disapproval rating was 48 percent versus an approval rating of 18 percent.

Cho must face the music. Public sentiment remains solidly cold even after he declared that he would donate his and his family’s wealth to society. In the JoongAng Ilbo poll, 46.6 percent of people in their 30s approved of the nomination before his offer to donated his wealth. But in a later survey, the disapproval ratio was higher — 46.6 percent versus 40.1 percent. People became more enraged after Cho offered to donate all the family interests in a private equity fund and a school foundation. They were angered by Cho’s belief that he could be pardoned if he donated his controversial wealth.

His attitude suggesting that a government post could be bargained for — and an attempt to cover up a misdeed with donation — has been distasteful. He is not fit to become a minister of justice. He has not fully explained nor apologized for the speculations involving his daughter’s name on a medical paper, admissions to top universities and scholarships in a graduate school.

In 2014, ex-Supreme Court justice Ahn Dae-hee — nominated for the prime minister under former conservative President Park Geun-hye — offered to donate 1.1 billion won ($905,350) to society after his legal fee earnings of 1.6 billion won in the five months after he resigned from the justice post caused an uproar. He ended up losing the nomination. At the time, Kim Han-gill, co-head of then-opposition Democratic Party, scorned that the government post could not be bought through dishonest money. Park Young-sun, now minister for SMEs and Startups and then floor leader, also criticized him for trying to buy his way in. Moon Jae-in, then a lawmaker, even mocked him for attempting to be a “prime minister of contribution.” We ask them: how is a justice minister of “contribution” any different?

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 26, Page 30