Blue House could have pushed for resignation of prosecutor-general

Posted on : 2013-09-14 12:29 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Chae Dong-wook resigned over allegations that he fathered an illegitimate child, which he denies
 Sept. 13. (by Kim Tae-hyeong
Sept. 13. (by Kim Tae-hyeong

By Kim Jeong-pil and Kim Won-chul, staff reporters

Evidence has surfaced that the Blue House was directly involved in the scandal involving Prosecutor-General Chae Dong-wook, 54, through acquiring information from public institutions to prove allegations that Chae had a child out of wedlock.

When Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn ordered an investigation into Chae on Sept. 13, Chae immediately announced that he would resign as prosecutor-general.

After the prosecutors ran into trouble with the ruling party this past June during their investigation of charges that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) had tried to manipulate public opinion and had interfered in politics during the 2012 presidential election, there was talk that Chae would be forced from his position.

But now evidence has come to light that the Blue House effectively ordered the resignation of the prosecutor-general who is legally guaranteed a two-year term in office using the rumors about an illegitimate child as the pretext. This latest development is expected to spark even more controversy.

According to various sources in the government inspection department, an official on the public official discipline team at the office of civil affairs at the Blue House called the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office on the weekend after the Chosun Ilbo reported on Sept. 6 that Chae had a child out of wedlock.

This government official reportedly told Chae that the government had learned that Chae’s blood type was A, the blood type of the illegitimate child’s mother, surnamed Lim, 54, was B, and the child’s blood type was AB. Suggesting that this constituted strong evidence that the allegations were true, the official recommended Chae step down on his own accord, according to sources.

Sources also say that this official called the prosecutors’ office once again on Sept. 12 and told Chae that the government would have no choice but to get involved to find out the truth.

“34% of Koreans have blood type A. It’s absurd to call that strong evidence,” said an official in the government’s internal auditing department, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“On Sept. 12, the day that Chae got the second call from the public official discipline team, he demanded that the Chosun Ilbo retract its story and moved to have a DNA test, saying in effect that he was refusing to resign,” the official continued. “Today, it appears that the Blue House put the squeeze on him [by ordering a personal audit].”

In regard to the public official discipline team at the civil affairs office finding out the blood type not only of Chae but also of Lim and her child, who are in the private sector, there is suspicion that the information was obtained through illegal means. “How do you think they got hold of the blood types of Lim and her child, who are not public servants?” an unidentified official with the prosecutors said. “It can be assumed that they accessed the data of some government organization like the National Education Information System or the National Health Insurance Service. What is that, if not surveillance of citizens?”

Cho Sang-cheol, spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, announced at 2 pm on Sept. 13 that the ministry was opening a personal audit of Chae, but even people working for the ministry had no idea that this was taking place until that morning, sources say. This is the reason why some are wondering whether Justice Minister Hwang ordered the audit after receiving a surprise directive from the Blue House.

“The Justice Ministry’s chief auditor is currently out of the country on business, and the officials and prosecutors in charge of internal audits heard the news while they were eating lunch,” a source with the prosecutors said on condition of anonymity. “Even Hwang already had plans to be somewhere that afternoon, but he suddenly canceled all of his other plans.”

“Hwang was heading to an appointment at the National Assembly when he suddenly canceled all of his plans,” a source at the Ministry of Justice recalled. “I remember the mood suddenly became very strange.”

Thirty minutes after Hwang said that they would be beginning an audit of the prosecutor-general, Chae officially announced his resignation.

“I would like to think that I have led the prosecutors properly in accordance with the law and with my principles over the past five months I have served as the prosecutor-general,” Chae related through a statement read by Gu Bon-seon, spokesperson for the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office. “In every case, I have brought forth the truth without any alterations from the standpoint of justice and impartiality. I have applied the laws as they are written, and I have taken no other considerations.”

Chae reiterated once more that the rumors about an illegitimate child were groundless.

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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