S. Korea's top prosecutor resigns in fight with President Moon over investigative powers

South Korean President Moon Jae-in. - AP

SEOUL (Bloomberg): South Korea's top prosecutor resigned in protest against President Moon Jae-in's policy to strip the office of investigative powers, in a move that could impact the country's presidential election in a year's time.

Prosecutor-General Yoon Seok-youl, whose public support has risen in the simmering battle with Moon over prosecutorial powers, told reporters on Thursday (March 4) at the Supreme Prosecutor's Office in Seoul that he was stepping down.

Moon's ruling party is pushing to form a new state agency that would strip prosecutors of much of their investigative powers.

"The spirit of the Constitution and rule of law is being destroyed," Yoon said, referring to the plans. "It's hard to see our value of justice being collapsed."

About an hour after Yoon spoke, the presidential office said Moon had accepted the resignation.

The resignation could open a path for Yoon to run for president in the March 2022 elections to replace Moon when his single, five-year term ends.

Current surveys show Yoon as the top choice for president, outpolling contenders in Moon's progressive camp.

Yoon last year said he was considering ways to serve the nation, not ruling out the possibility of running for the presidency.

The fight between Moon and Yoon's office has lasted for months and at times pushed the government's support rate to record lows.

Yoon was handpicked by Moon in 2019, with a mandate to make good on the President's pledges to clean up government and go after the most powerful. But ties soured after probes that included members of government and led to the resignations of two of Moon's justice ministers.

The Moon administration has been pushing for the establishment of another state investigative agency.

The authority of prosecutors has been a sensitive issue in South Korea for years. While the office pledges independence, it has faced criticism from the left and right for using its power for political purposes and protecting the privileged.

"Regardless of my position, I will do my absolute best to protect people and liberal democracy," Yoon said in announcing his resignation.

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

Next In Aseanplus News

Asean News Headlines as at 7pm on Thursday (April 15)
Indonesia's Jokowi proposes exclusive German industrial area in Central Java
Global Times probes why WHO-China report included hypotheses of cold chain and world military games
Brunei’s economy to grow by 3.2 per cent this year
Xi to join European climate summit, as Kerry in China for talks
Beijing skies turn yellow as sand, dust engulf Chinese capital
South Korea mulls plan to end state funding of overseas coal
Philippines must exercise rights to build structures within EEZ in WPS: Carpio
Hong Kong electoral amendment bill passes first reading
Covid-19: Two more cases detected with highly contagious UK variant

Stories You'll Enjoy