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Justice minister’s wife to face court over alleged family corruption

Court proceedings into the corruption scandal surrounding Justice Minister Cho Kuk’s family are slated for later this week, a Seoul court said Sunday.

According to Seoul Central District Court, the trial preparation hearing for Cho’s wife Chung Kyung-shim, 57, will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday. Chung is not expected to appear at the pretrial hearing, which defendants are not obliged to attend.

On Saturday, the Seoul Central District prosecutors summoned Chung for the fourth time for questioning at 9 a.m. Saturday, and grilled her until 5:40 p.m. Her lawyers then requested a review of records, which lasted until 1:50 a.m. the next day.

Moon`s justice minister Cho Kuk speaks at The National Assembly on Sunday. (Yonhap)
Moon`s justice minister Cho Kuk speaks at The National Assembly on Sunday. (Yonhap)

Saturday’s questioning was mainly directed at Chung’s 2017 investments in private equity fund called Blue Core Value-Up 1 while her husband held a senior post at Cheong Wa Dae.

Public service ethics violation concerns arose after a company acquired by Blue Core Value-Up 1’s operator Co-Link Private Equity surged in sales after investments by the family of then presidential secretary Cho. Co-Link is believed to be owned by a relative of the minister, Cho Beom-dong.

Chung was indicted on Sept. 6, the day of her husband’s parliamentary confirmation hearing, on charges of fabricating credentials to influence her daughter’s admission to a medical school in 2014. Prosecutors said the indictment schedule was based on the looming statute of limitations expiration date.

The upcoming trial concerns Chung’s alleged involvement in forging a certificate issued under the name of the president of a private university where she works. The certificate was submitted as part of her daughter’s application to Pusan National University Medical School, where she enrolled in 2015.

The Cho family’s legal team had asked the proceedings be postponed, but the court did not grant the request. The team of lawyers defending the minister’s family includes a former colleague at the senior presidential secretary’s office, where he had served since Moon’s inauguration in 2017 until his nomination in the Cabinet in August.

Meanwhile, the first pretrial hearing for Cho Beom-dong is set for Oct. 25. The minister’s first cousin once removed was indicted on Oct. 3 on charges of violating laws on economic crimes and capital markets, among others.

By Kim Arin (