An embattled law professor began his duty as South Korea’s Justice Minister after receiving presidential approval on Monday, despite an on-going probe by state prosecutors into alleged misconduct by his wife.
Cho Kuk was appointed to the role by President Moon Jae-In, the presidential blue house said, with a mandate to reform the prosecutor’s office.
Liberal darling Cho was named last month by the president himself a former human-rights lawyer as a nominee to lead the ministry.
But the confirmation process became a partisan battleground when questions were raised over Cho’s daughter’s schooling and his relatives’ investment in a private equity fund suspected of dubious operations.
Officials from the prosecution office that Cho is to lead have carried out multiple raids over the past two weeks linked to the scandals.
And last week his wife, Professor Chung Kyung-Sim, was indicted for allegedly forging a college award for their daughter.
President Moon admitted in a televised statement on Monday that there was now a “Sharp Division” between critics and supporters of Cho, adding he had been “agonised” over the decision.
But he said he stuck to his choice because it would leave a “bad precedent” if he had dropped Cho’s nomination when it was not confirmed that Cho had broken laws himself.