Is Yoon trapping Minjoo by appointing Han as Justice Minister?

Is Yoon trapping Minjoo by appointing Han as Justice Minister?

We all knew that Yoon would give Han an important job someday but this senior, this soon, no one had imagined this. 

Many, including me, guessed Han would be appointed to the prosecutor leadership. However, Yoon instead appointed him as the Minister of Justice on Wednesday. 

Who is Han?

  • Widely considered to be one of the most competent prosecutors
  • Also known as chaebol’s grim reaper, most notably having played a role in arresting:
    • Chey Tae-won of SK Group (2003)
    • Chung Mong-koo of Hyundai Motor Group (2005)
    • Jay Y. Lee of Samsung Group (2017)
  • Investigated former Presidents Lee and Park under the Moon administration but fell from grace after he went after Moon’s justice minister Cho Kuk

The appointment of Han is seen as the strongest card against Minjoo’s attempt to finish the reform of the Prosecutors, namely the complete deprivation of the Prosecutors’ investigation authority.

(The Prosecutors’ reform will be the topic of next week’s deep dive. Please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about it.)


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Some, however, criticize Yoon’s decision that it only gives more reason to Minjoo to pursue the reform. Others think Yoon has set a trap for Minjoo to win the local election.

  • There’s no way that appointing Han would be seen any other than a declaration of revenge 
    • Minjoo politicians have already made lots of comments this way.
  • However, the Prosecutors’ reform at this moment is not popular and is even seen as a misprision
    • The more Minjoo pushes for the reform, the grimmer the result of the June local election will be

To me, it seems far from Yoon’s political maneuver. Yoon appears to have absolute faith in Han, and I think he even considers Han his political heir. 

  • President-elect’s chief secretary Jang Je-won shared what Yoon spoke of Han: “This guy is too good to remain a prosecutor. This is not about my personal connection.”

The confirmation hearing in the Assembly will be a great spectacle.

But even if Minjoo doesn’t agree to confirm him as the next justice minister, the President can appoint him anyway.

One more display of how South Korea is far from the parliamentary system. But who could blame it? Pres Moon has the worst record on respecting the Assembly when appointing ministers.

Yoon meets Park…

The disgraced former President finally met the President-elect who sent her to prison. And she was even smiling!

Why? It is likely that she will come back to politics, and the June election will be her first return match. Not that she’s running herself, but with her in the center, she will be trying to gather support and reestablish her presence, faction, and ultimately, her honor. 

Despite the dull, limp impressions of her last days as the President and the prisoner, she retains her political instinct pretty well. How she would play a role in the election will be a matter of interest for political observers.

For Yoon, however, this is a tricky business. Should he let the remnant of the Park faction (so-called 親朴) get back on their feet? This is far from what those who voted for Yoon hoped for.

and… Moon meets Sohn

Pres Moon is having his final interview during his term with the prominent journalist Sohn Suk-hee, which will be aired on April 25 and 26.

Moon is notorious for being media-shy, and his PR orchestrator Tak Hyun-min has been using media interviews as a means for Moon’s imagepolitik. He picks the interviewer deliberately as if he’s a director selecting actors for a film.

This time won’t be different. It is reported that Tak’s initial idea was just inviting Sohn as an interviewer with the Blue House taking the helm of the project, but later the plan was changed that JTBC will film and edit, then broadcast the interview. 

I currently have no information behind the scenes, but it looks pretty much like Sohn will be little more than a puppet (because Moon can’t talk to himself or the wall!). If Sohn can’t hard press Moon on essential issues like housing policy, Prosecutors’ reform, and Ulsan mayor election meddling suspicion, it will be a humiliation for himself.


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