Candidate not all he’s cracked up to be . . .
The appointment of Cho Kuk as South Korea’s justice minister has drawn particular attention amid a major cabinet shuffle. Cho is a high-profile legal scholar who the current administration considered to be the ideal figure to lead the Prosecutor’s Office. In recent years, the Prosecutor’s Office has become associated with the ‘great accumulation of corruption’ – President Moon Jae-in-speak for the abuse of power by elites prevalent in South Korean society. This was something that Moon pledged to eliminate in his successful campaign to presidency, but his administration was soon embroiled in a series of scandals.
Allegations of special privilege . . .
A series of alleged acts of financial fraud and abuse of power involving Cho and his family came to the surface right after his appointment – and the allegations against his daughter have been particularly damning. Ms. Cho, a medical student, was allegedly granted several privileges as a high-school and then university student that eventually helped her get admitted to medical school. This is reminiscent of the type of corruption that ignited the ousting of president Park Geun-hye, emblematic of the ‘great accumulation of corruption.’ As Cho readies for the confirmation process in early September, 60 per cent of Koreans have indicated disapproval of his appointment.
Disillusioned youth . . .
There is significant discontent among young South Koreans who face a dire job market with a youth unemployment rate of 10.5 per cent. These young Koreans hold strong contempt for elites using their power to grant privileges to their children in gaining access to increasingly competitive university and employment opportunities. The allegations surrounding Cho and his family have come as a shock to the country’s youth, who have taken their frustration to the streets, organizing candlelight rallies and demanding a thorough investigation of Cho’s daughter. Combined with a sluggish economy and social polarization, the outrage surrounding Cho is especially concerning considering the geopolitical tensions surrounding South Korea today.
- The Chosun Ilbo: More students rally against justice minister nominee
- The Diplomat: Public anger grows in South Korea over justice minister nominee
- The Korea Times: Prosecutors search Busan mayor's office over Cho scandal