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Cho’s wife questioned 2nd time

Much of Chung’s time was spent correcting previous statements
Oct 07,2019
Chung Kyung-sim, wife of scandal-plagued Justice Minister Cho Kuk, was summoned by prosecutors on Saturday for the second time to answer questions about a slew of allegations surrounding her and her family.

But in the 15 hours she was at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in Seocho District, southern Seoul, she was only questioned for about two and a half hours - the rest, she mostly used to re-read and change her statements from her first round of questioning last Thursday, according to sources with knowledge of the process.

The questioning session on Thursday lasted about eight hours, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but sources said she answered questions for only about five hours during that time. The rest was used for lunch, breaks, and time to review statements given to prosecutors.

Local media had expected her to stay much longer Thursday given the complexity of her case, but prosecutors said she requested to leave early due to dizziness.

Chung, 57, an English professor at Dongyang University in Yeongju, North Gyeongsang, was asked to reappear at the office the next day, but she postponed her appointment to Saturday, saying she needed to be hospitalized for medical treatment.

In an attempt to defuse criticism from the public, Chung’s lawyers told local media on Friday that Chung was blinded in her right eye in an accident at the age of 6, and that she has been suffering from a “serious headache and dizziness” from a different accident in 2004. Both cases, the lawyers said, make it difficult for Chung to “even look prosecutors in the eyes during questioning” or “talk long hours with her lawyers.”

Chung appeared at the prosecutors’ office with her lawyer on Saturday at around 9 a.m., entering the building via a route that was off limits to the media, like last Thursday. Sources said she spent the time from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. reviewing her statements from the first questioning, except for an hour she spent around noon for lunch.

At 4 p.m., prosecutors began asking Chung whether she fabricated an award for her daughter and submitted it as part of the daughter’s application to Pusan National University’s medical school, which the daughter currently attends. On Sept. 6, prosecutors indicted Chung for allegedly creating a Dongyang University presidential award for her daughter - without the Dongyang president’s own knowledge - and secretly placing his seal on the award.

At 6:40 p.m., Chung and her lawyer asked for a break, and they ate dinner until 7:30 p.m.

From 7:30 p.m. to midnight, instead of resuming the question-and-answer round, Chung insisted she review the statements she made throughout Saturday to make changes.

By law, suspects are allowed to review notes that prosecutors take of their questioning and make any changes if they feel they were misunderstood by crossing out those specific parts with a pen and personally writing down what they had intended. They finalize the changes with their thumbprint.

BY JEONG JIN-HO, LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]