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Senior prosecutors resign en masse over reshuffle

Aug 02,2019
Dozens of senior prosecutors have decided to leave the prosecution en masse in protest of the recent reshuffle conducted by the new Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-yeol.

The Ministry of Justice announced Wednesday the new posts for 647 prosecutors from around the country. The ministry said new assignments will begin as of Tuesday.

An exodus of senior prosecutors, particularly those who participated in the investigations targeting members of the Moon Jae-in administration, took place after the reshuffle. Many of them expressed their intentions to resign and leave the prosecution in protest of the apparent demotions.

Observers said prosecutors who had investigated and indicted allies of Moon faced apparent demotions as they were assigned to less important posts.

In particular, three prosecutors who led an investigation of top officials in an appointment scandal at the Environment Ministry all stepped down.

Kwon Sun-cheol, deputy chief prosecutor of the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office, and Ju Jin-wu, senior prosecutor of the same office, resigned following the announcement of their new posts. Kwon was order to serve at the Seoul High Prosecutors’ Office, and Ju was assigned as the head of Andong Branch Office of the Daegu District Prosecutors’ Office.

Earlier this year, Kwon and Ju investigated top officials of the Moon administration on charges of abusing their power to carry out a political purge at public companies and institutions supervised by the Environment Ministry and filled vacancies with associates of the president. Former Environment Minister Kim Eun-kyung and former Blue House Secretary for Balanced Personnel Affairs Shin Mi-sook were investigated on the charges and indicted in April this year.

“A reshuffle is a message,” Kwon said, as he expressed his resignation on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Ju also expressed his intention to step down. “My belief as a public servant is being shaken,” Ju said, “and it is not right and honorable to continue working as a prosecutor.”

Their boss, Han Chan-sik, who headed the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office, already stepped down on July 23, two days before Yoon took office as the new prosecutor-general.

Under Han’s leadership, the office also investigated and indicted Song In-bae, former presidential secretary for political affairs, on charges of receiving political bribes.

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