Kim Ki-choon and Culture Minister arrest warrants issued over cultural blacklist

Posted on : 2017-01-21 15:11 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Court cites risk that Kim and Cho Yoon-sun could destroy evidence in issuing warrants
Former Blue House Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon arrives at the offices of the Special Prosecutor’s team in Seoul’s Gangnam district
Former Blue House Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon arrives at the offices of the Special Prosecutor’s team in Seoul’s Gangnam district

A court issued arrest warrants for former Blue House Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon, 78, and Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Cho Yoon-sun, 51, as requested by the investigative team led by Special Prosecutor Park Young-soo.

Seong Chang-ho, a judge in charge of warrants for the Seoul Central District Court, issued warrants for Kim and Cho in the early morning of Jan. 21. “The court acknowledges the necessity of their arrest because the fact of the crime has been demonstrated and because there are concerns that they might destroy evidence,” the judge said.

The request for arrest warrants against Kim and Cho, who are charged with spearheading the composition and implementation of a blacklist of cultural figures (corresponding to the crimes of abusing power and preventing people from exercising their rights), was made on Jan. 18. Kim served as Blue House Chief of Staff from Aug. 2013 until Feb. 2015, while Cho served as Blue House Senior Secretary for Political Affairs from June 2014 until May 2015. The Special Prosecutor has concluded that the two committed perjury when they testified in a hearing before the National Assembly’s special committee investigating the Choi Sun-sil scandal that they were unaware of the existence of the blacklist, and so it is also charging them with breaking the Act on Testimony and Appraisal before the National Assembly.

Kim Ki-choon, who was once called “Regent Ki-Choon” and was believed to be pulling the strings of power in the Blue House, served as an aide to Park Geun-hye from 2006 and became her presidential Chief of Staff in Aug. 2013. During the regime of Park Chung-hee (1961-79), Kim directed the Korean Central Intelligence Agency’s bureau of investigations into communist activities and served as a Blue House secretary, and he played an instrumental role in enacting the Yushin Constitution.

 before going to Seoul Central District Court for his arrest warrant
before going to Seoul Central District Court for his arrest warrant

Kim was embroiled in the Chowonbok restaurant scandal in Busan in 1992 because of remarks he made about stirring up regional sentiment, but he survived the crisis through the strategy of focusing on the illegality of the recording of the conversation, and he has exercised major influence as a legal expert. By consistently feigning ignorance to every question he has been asked about Choi Sun-sil and the blacklist during hearings about the scandal, he earned the moniker of the “legal eel.” Cho Yoon-sun has also received the shameful distinction of becoming the first sitting government minister to be arrested.

The simultaneous issuance of arrest warrants for Kim and Cho has helped the Special Prosecutor’s investigation into the blacklist gain momentum. Thus far, the only request for an arrest warrant that has been rejected in connection with the blacklist was the one for former Blue House Senior Secretary for Education and Culture Kim Sang-ryul. Former Culture Minister Kim Jong-deok, former Vice Culture Minister Chung Kwan-joo and former Presidential Secretary for Political Affairs Shin Dong-cheol, who are accused of involvement with the composition or the transmission of the blacklist, were all arrested on Jan. 12.

By Heo Jae-hyun, staff reporter

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