Photo: Justice Minister Han Dong-hun. Credit: Yonhap.
Justice Minister Han Dong-hun 한동훈 법무부장관 replaced 712 prosecutors of the Public Prosecutors’ Office 검찰청, an unprecedented move in scale and timing. The personnel shake-up, which appointed 683 new prosecutors at the High Prosecutors’ Office level, is one of the largest replacements in PPO history.
Although the Justice Minister is required by law to consult the Supreme Prosecutor 검찰총장 for PPO’s appointments, no such consultation occurred as the Yoon Suk-yeol 윤석열 administration has not yet appointed a Supreme Prosecutor. The personnel move was marked by elevating pro-Yoon prosecutors to key positions such as those at the Anti-Corruption Division 반부패부, which investigates politicians.
The move came on the heels of other unprecedented personnel actions by the Yoon administration, such as removing all of the highest-ranking non-political officials of South Korea’s spy agency; proposing to revive the dictatorship era police management bureau in the Interior Ministry 행정안전부; and appointing the new head of the National Tax Service 국세청 without a legislative hearing. (See previous coverage, “Yoon Purges the Spy Agency.”)
The conservative JoongAng Ilbo 중앙일보 pointedly criticized the move in its editorial, calling it “contrary to the spirit of the law and common sense.”