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Moon’s pick for chief justice of Supreme Court is approved

Sept 21,2017
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Kim Meong-su is approved by the National Assembly as the new chief justice of the Supreme Court Thursday. [YONHAP]
The National Assembly Thursday approved Kim Meong-su as the new chief justice of the Supreme Court, after the ruling party managed to secure crucial votes from the opposition.

Voting took place Thursday afternoon and 298 of the 299-member legislature attended. Of those, 160 voted for the nomination and 134 opposed. Three votes were counted as invalid and one abstained.

President Moon Jae-in nominated Kim, head of the Chuncheon District Court in Gangwon Province, on Aug. 21, as the new Supreme Court chief justice. His fate, however, was uncertain as the conservative opposition Liberty Korea Party and the Bareun Party opposed him. They said Kim, who formerly led a group of liberal judges, could fuel the judiciary’s swing to the left.

Until the end of his term in May 2022, Moon will appoint 10 more justices on the top court’s 14-member bench.

The ruling Democratic Party and its ally the Justice Party tried to persuade the People’s Party to back the nominee to secure the crucial votes needed to pass the nomination.

As of now, the Democratic Party occupies 121 seats and the Justice Party has six lawmakers in the 299-member legislature. The Liberty Korea Party has 107 and the Bareun Party has 20. The People’s Party has 40 lawmakers.

With the confirmation, the judiciary managed to avoid a leadership vacuum. The term of the current Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Seung-tae ends on Sunday.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]