Seoul, October 14: South Korea’s justice minister on Monday offered to step down amid an investigation into allegations of financial crimes and academic favours surrounding his family, a scandal that has rocked Seoul’s liberal government and deeply polarised national opinion.
The minister, Cho Kuk, said in a statement that he was offering to resign to reduce President Moon Jae-in’s political burden.
Moon’s office didn’t immediately comment on whether Moon would accept Cho’s offer. Kang Gi-jung, Moon’s chief of staff, told reporters that the president would comment on Cho’s resignation offer during a meeting with senior advisers later Monday.
Huge crowds of Cho’s supporters and critics have marched in South Korea’s capital in recent weeks, demonstrating how the months-long saga over Cho has deepened the country’s political divide.
Cho’s statement came as state prosecutors continued to push forward with a criminal investigation into his university professor wife, brother and other relatives over allegations of dubious financial investments, fraud and creating fake credentials for his daughter that may have helped her enter a top university in Seoul and a medical school in Busan.
Cho, a law professor who for years cultivated an image as an anti-elitist reformist, has denied wrongdoing. But he said he couldn’t push further as minister while ignoring the pain his family was going through.
“I concluded that I should no longer burden the president and the government with issues surrounding my family,” Cho said in an emailed statement. (AP)