Rallies held for and against Justice Minister Cho Kuk
Supporters of Korea’s embattled justice minister, Cho Kuk, staged another massive candlelit vigil right in front of the prosecution’s headquarters in southern Seoul on Saturday, as Cho’s wife was grilled again by investigators over her alleged role in the fraud and corruption scandal that has roiled the country for more than two months.
Within a stone’s throw of the place, a smaller group of anti-Cho protesters also had a rally, putting police on high alert.
The streets near the Seocho subway station were packed with those carrying candles or related images as well as banners and signs that read “Protect Cho Kuk,” “Reform Prosecution,” “Reform Media” and “Ultimatum.”
It reflects their view that state prosecutors are conducting a witch hunt against Cho, a former law professor known as an architect of the Moon Jae-in administration’s prosecution reform plan.
Cheong Wa Dae and the ruling Democratic Party are seeking to give more investigative power to police and create a special agency looking into corruption cases involving high-ranking government officials.
Cho’s family has faced an intensive probe by prosecutors since he was nominated in early August to lead the Ministry of Justice with a mission to complete the reform drive.
Almost no day has since passed without news of the scandal making headlines in the country.
The organizing group would not reveal its official estimate of the number of participants. It also announced a plan to suspend the weekend candlelit vigils.
“It’s a temporary halt, not an end,” a coalition official said. “Candles will be back on anytime soon if the prosecution shows a move to resist reform.”
A group of conservative activists also had a rally calling for the arrest of Cho and the ouster of President Moon Jae-in.
It was organized by Our Republican Party, which supports Moon’s impeached predecessor Park Geunhye.
The party claimed that at least 100,000 people took part in the rally.
More than 5,000 police have been mobilized there to keep a close eye on the possibility of clashes and other incidents.