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Mon Aug 3, 2020, 10:29 PM

South Korea: Press- Prosecution collusion affair- the cast

Last edited Tue Aug 4, 2020, 04:25 PM - Edit history (1)

Lee Seong-ryun, Chief of the Seoul Central District Prosecutor's Branch, Seoul, regarded as the "restraint" on Yoon Seok-yeol. Ultimately, Lee could be a candidate for Prosecutor General, the top position now currently held by Yoon Seok-yeol when the latter's term ends. Lee may be indispensable to the independence of the current investigation into alleged press-prosecution collusion. Investigation of the immediate case of the Channel A News scandal centered around Lee Dong-jae and former Senior Prosecutor Han Dong-hun is the focus of a struggle for control of prosecutorial powers.

Ultimately, the Justice Ministry is seeking to break the effective monopoly held by Yoon Seok-yeol. The political situation affecting Chief Prosecutor Lee's struggle against Yoon and the conservative cadre of attorneys in the so called group of experts is complex. A desire to maintain an independent investigation of suspected press-prosecution collusion by the Central District Branch may be holding up Justice Ministry announcements concerning 11 high level prosecutor appointments throughout South Korea that were expected last week. Those appointments by Justice Minister Chu Mi-ae are expected to further attenuate the power of Yoon's "division ( 사단 )."

The above is a graphic of the original report by MBC News of the relationship among Lee Chol, former VIK representative in prison on financial charges; the "informant" an associate of Lee Chol; and (unidentified at the time) former Channel A News reporter Lee Dong-jae. Reporter Lee sent Lee Chol four letters in prison inquiring into the financial consideration he provided to Yoo Shi-min, an influential pundit, foundation director, and former minister. Lee then met three times with the anonymous informant who acted as Lee Chol's proxy allegedly to see what Lee Chol could get for offering false testimony in an investigation against Yoo Shi-min. The informant reported exclusively to MBC that former Channel A News reporter Lee had shared recorded audio of a conversation with prosecutor Han Dong-hun to show he was acting with the backing of a prosecutor with close ties at the highest level.

Yoo Shi-min appears in the white jacket in this graphic referring to the MBC exclusive report. According to the anonymous informer, Lee Dong-jae persistently made demands to take down Yoo Shi-min. Allegedly he said, "Yoo was the face of a monster." Yoo Shi-min as the director of the No Moo-hyun foundation is a well known and outspoken pundit of the democratic left who appears regularly in South Korean media. (No Moo-hyun was the late liberal president of South Korea). Yoo was the Health and Welfare Minister in the administration of former President No Moo-hyun.

Yoon Seok-yeol, current Prosecutor General of South Korea. Yoon is the current leading contender on the right to be a candidate for president of South Korea. He polls only at 13.8 percent. Lee Nak-yon, the leading democratic party contender polls at 25.6 percent. Yoon is allegedly responsible for carrying out a series of politically motivated prosecutions, in particular the cases against Yoo Shi-min, former minister Cho-Guk, and Kyeongkido governor Lee Jae-myeong. Lee Jae-myeong was acquitted recently of rather bizarre charges revolving around involuntary commitment proceedings against his brother. Lee was accused of abusing his official position, and impersonating a law officer. Lee Jae-myeong is now ahead of Yoon in presidential preference pools at about 19.6 percent. Had Governor Lee been convicted he would be disqualified from running for or holding political office.

The improper investigation of Yoo Shi-min was allegedly carried out by Yoon's right hand man, former Senior Prosecutor Han Dong-hun. The prosecution of former Justice Minister Cho Guk, and his wife, as well as Governor Lee and Director Yoo, were intended to affect the outcome of the April 15 elections by branding leading democratic figures as criminals and hypocrites. Former Justice Minister Cho was also the lead advocate for the so called fast track prosecutorial reforms. Cho has been pursuing litigation against multiple reporters from mainstream media and the internet who have libeled his wife, and daughter, and has obtained some sizable judgements. His prosecution is still pending but his wife was found innocent recently of several charges. The cases appear to be faltering.

Last week Yoon's panel of experts reviewing evidence collected before the investigation of the Channel A News case was complete recommended ending the investigation and resolving the matter against Prosecutor Han Dong-hun with a no indictment disposition. The recommendation is little more than a public relations effort to be exploited by the conservative media supporting Yoon. Justice Minister Chu Mi-ae had removed the Prosecutor General's supervisory role over the investigation and disposition of the case because of an apparent conflict of interest.

Yoon is also suspected of burying criminal investigations into leading conservatives, including Na Kyung-won and Hwang Kyo-ahn and right wing national assembly members who conducted themselves unlawfully last spring in futile attempts to obstruct passage of the so called fast track prosecutorial reform measures by National Assembly. Yoon and the right in general view the democratic administration's attempts to interfere with his unfettered discretion on who gets prosecuted and who doesn't, as despotism dressed in democratic clothes.

Senior Prosecutor Han Dong-hun (on left) vs. Chief Criminal Investigation, team 1, Jung Jin-oong (right). War by proxies? Han suspected of colluding with former Channel A reporter Lee Dong-jae, was served with a warrant last week by a the lower ranking prosecutor who works for Lee Seong-ryun, the Chief Prosecutor of the Seoul Central District Branch Prosecutor's office. Han resisted Jung's attempt to seize his hand phone and a physical confrontation ensued. Jung went to the hospital later allegedly for injuries sustained in the altercation. Han is regarded as someone quite close to Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-yeol, and as his proxy. Jung is regarded as the proxy for Chief Prosecutor Lee Seong-ryun.

Observers regard the conflicting stories of Han and Jung as to how the altercation ensured as an embarrassment to prosecutors in general. Han is obviously trying to portray himself as the victim, and at the same time create legal grounds to block the admissibility of any evidence obtained from the audio files on the sim chip from his phone. Han claims Jung committed a battery without cause. Han's account is widely portrayed in the conventional conservative South Korean media, and also on social media by conservative "akpullers" ( 악플러 ) or trolls as they are known in the west. A drawing in Cho-sun Ilbo of the alleged assault on Han by Jung was indicative of how partial the owners of that media network are to Yoon.

In the above picture, Lee Dong-jae, the former Channel A News reporter suspected of attempting to create false testimony against Yoo Shi-min. He is at the center of litigation in the Channel A News case. He is committed to pre-trial confinement after being ruled a potential threat to investigation of evidence by the Seoul Central District Prosecutor's Office, investigation team number one. Last week a Seoul court ruled that a search warrant for his hand phones and notebook was executed improperly. Here Yoo Shi-min is quoted in a MBC News interview saying it would be best legally if Lee Dong-jae disclosed all he knows related to suspected press-prosecution collusion.

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