Constitutional Court presidential nominee Park Han-chul is set to become the first public prosecutor to head the top court in Korean history.
The current justice at the Constitutional Court was nominated by President Park Geun-hye on Thursday. Park’s nomination comes more than a month after former justice Lee Dong-heub stepped down as the nominee amid a series of allegations of wrongdoing.
Park is a lifelong public prosecutor who rose to some of the highest posts within the prosecutors’ office.
Park’s nomination was met with immediate criticism from the main opposition Democratic United Party, which honed in on his record of heading the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office’s public security department in 2008.
The public security department’s stated purpose is to protect the country from “offenses that could undermine public security,” and it has had jurisdiction over cases involving communists and other antigovernment forces.
As such, the department has been accused of bending the law to protect those in power, and has been found to have manipulated evidence to charge innocent people on a number of occasions in the past.
“It is worrisome that the Constitutional Court will become the last bastion of public security rather than the last bastion of human rights, if the Constitutional Court president’s post is filled by a public security prosecutor when both the minister and vice minister of justice are former public security prosecutors,” DUP spokesman Park Yong-jin said.
The DUP has also raised issues over Park Han-chul allegedly receiving 400 million won ($360,000) from the law firm Kim & Chang for four months of services in 2009.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com