It has been confirmed that Prosecutor Choi Jin-hong (39th class of the Judicial Training Institute), a member of the Investigation Division 1 of the High Public Officials’ Criminal Investigation Service (Gongsu), recently resigned and decided to leave the agency.

According to a report by the Dong-A Ilbo on February 6, a total of six prosecutors have resigned since February, including former deputy chief prosecutors Kim Soo-jeong, Kim Seung-gyun, Kim Sung-moon, Yoon Jun-sik, Park Si-young, and Choi Jin-hong, continuing the “Exodus” from the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Including Choi, nine of the 13 prosecutors who were first appointed in 2021 have left, leaving only four (31%). Prosecutors are appointed for three years and can serve for up to 12 years with three consecutive terms, but 70% left before completing their first term.

“Public Prosecution Service is a graveyard for lawyers”
With Choi’s departure, the number of prosecutors in the Public Prosecution Service has dropped to 19. The office has a capacity of 25 prosecutors, including Chief Kim Jin-wook and Deputy Chief Yeo Un-guk, but has never been filled since its inception in January 2021.

Prosecutors who have left the Public Prosecution Service have cited a lack of resources and authority as reasons for their departure. “The number of prosecutors at the Public Prosecutors’ Office is smaller than the first through third anti-corruption divisions of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office combined,” A lawyer, a former public prosecutor, told The Korea Times. “Moreover, the investigative powers are limited, so even if a brilliant specialist comes, there is no answer. The Public Prosecution Service is a graveyard for lawyers.” In order to investigate high-level public official bribery cases, the KFOR must find evidence of embezzlement or embezzlement from the companies or businessmen who paid the bribes, which is difficult because the investigation is limited to high-level public officials.

For this reason, Lee Jeong-gyun, a former deputy chief prosecutor who left the Public Prosecution Service in March, recently published a paper in an academic journal, arguing that the Public Prosecution Service should be operated as a “permanent special prosecutor” where prosecutors and police personnel investigate together.

“Commanders with a sense of victimization is also a problem”
Some people said they left the Public Prosecution Service because they were disappointed with the behavior of Kim and the leadership안전놀이터.

Attorney B, a former public prosecutor, said he was “shocked” when he saw that Kim launched an internal investigation into the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office following the “Emperor Investigation” controversy of former Seoul Central District Prosecutor Lee Sung-yoon in 2021. “Kim was convinced that the reports were leaked by the prosecutors’ office to target him,” he said, adding, “I was disappointed to see him conducting an emotional retaliatory investigation.

Kim Sung-moon, a former deputy chief prosecutor, also announced his resignation and publicly criticized the leadership’s attitude. In an email to the rest of the team, excluding Mr. Kim, he wrote, “In the cadre meetings, words like ‘the prosecutors are trying to kill the public prosecutor’s office by colluding with some media’ were said from time to time.” He also cited repeated administrative mistakes, such as miscalculated salaries due to a lack of clerical staff, as reasons for his departure.

Dr. Seung Jae-hyun of the Korea Institute of Criminal Justice and Legal Policy said, “All 7,000 high-ranking public officials, including members of parliament, are under investigation by the Public Prosecution Service, but it is difficult to cover all of them with the current manpower.” “We can consider drastically reducing the scope of the investigation to only investigate the chief justice and supreme court justices, the prosecutor general, judges and prosecutors, and police officers above the rank of sergeant.”

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