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Facing reality

Sept 19,2019
Calls for Justice Minister Cho Kuk to resign are even being made by professors and lawyers. After a never-ending scandal and a plethora of allegations against Cho and his family, a group of former and current professors will hold a press conference in front of the Blue House today to demand his resignation. The group expects the number of professors who signed an online petition to remove Cho from office to exceed 3,000 by today. It said 2,104 professors from 246 universities signed the petition in just three days after it went online over the weekend.

Professors have come together in this way for the first time since they took a similar action during the unprecedented scandal involving corruption and abuse of power by former President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil in 2016. The professors’ latest move reflects the gravity of the misconduct alleged by Cho and his relatives in regards to a private equity fund and his daughter’s admissions to top universities.

The number of professors who participate in this joint declaration will likely outnumber those at the time of the “Choi Soon-sil-gate” scandal. That shows how deep the anger is that our intellectual community feels toward Cho. When a group of professors came up with a petition three years ago to demand the ouster of President Park, 2,234 joined.

The professors are criticizing President Moon Jae-in for turning his back on social justice by pushing his appointment of Cho as justice minister. “Moon has established a bad precedent in which the elite can justify their bad behavior by taking advantage of their power without any sense of guilt,” the group said. They demanded an immediate replacement of Cho. Moon must listen to them.

The results of the prosecution’s investigation of Cho and his family are eagerly awaited. His wife, a professor at a local university, will most likely be summoned for questioning. His cousin was already arrested. That’s not all. Cho lied at a confirmation hearing and a press conference, and his wife has been indicted for fabricating documents to help her daughter get into a better school. If Cho and Moon turn their faces from the professors’ demand, it is difficult to predict what will happen next.

A group of lawyers championing human rights and reunification of the Korean Peninsula joined the petition campaign. It announced that 385 members have signed their own petition urging Cho’s resignation. Students at Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University are holding a candlelight vigil to demand his resignation today. Moon must face up to a hard reality before it is too late.

JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 19, Page 30