"The general direction of legal reforms lies in getting the Ministry of Justice and the Prosecution Office to find their proper positions. This means supporting prosecutors so that they can conduct investigations based on their convictions. I believe that the Ministry's and prosecutors' present resistance will soon change to trust and support."
Newly appointed Minister of Justice Kang Kum-sil said on February 27, "The important task of reforming the Prosecution Office is a heavy burden indeed. But I cannot understand the concern that I won't be able to handle it because I'm a woman. In a phone interview with The Women's News immediately following the announcement of new administration's Ministerial appointments, Minister Kang emphasized that she would do her best to "help prosecutors be faithful to their role as investigators."
Regarding spiteful attacks on her "lack of capability" coming from both within and without the Ministry of Justice before her appointment, Kang commented, "I read an article that suggested that prosecutors who are my seniors should all quit. It's not in my capacity as the Minister to talk about what the prosecutors should do, but one thing is for sure - people who say such things do not understand the citizens' desire for reform."
Kang said that the direction of legal reforms lies in "getting the Ministry of Justice and the Prosecution Office to find their proper positions." Her suggestions are grounded in basic principles such as "helping prosecutors from the Public Prosecutor-General down to carry out investigations based on their convictions," and "the Ministry of Justice setting out the principles of investigations through supervision and assisting the prosecution in investigations."
In order to block the possibility of 'political interference' in personnel management at the Ministry, Kang revealed that she would put in place a personnel review board made up of outside directors and prosecutors. Said the Minister, "I will bank on my ministerial rights of personnel appointments in order to check and balance powers, but will also have a personnel review board to block political interference."
Regarding the basic direction of justice-related administration, the Minister revealed, "Welfare policies for prosecutors, such as reimbursing investigation costs, will be implemented so that prosecutors can be faithful to their primary role as investigators. Administration should move in the direction of enhancing quality of service."
Regarding the abolishment of the hoju system, the long dream of women groups, Kang said, "I was part of the team researching the hoju system when I was with the Lawyers for a Democratic Society. As this isn't an issue involving only the Ministry of Justice, and as I am now a public official, I will approach the issue from a fresh perspective that reflects a wide range of public opinions." In addition, Kang also intends to "seek out and improve various gender-discriminatory laws."
Asked if she has any requests to women groups, the Minister said, "A Minister's duty is to aide the citizen-elected president, and women groups should keep up their criticism and checks so that I will be steered in the right direction." Kang picked former Minister of Environment Kim Myung-ja as her woman minister model, and also promised that she would "heed the opinions of prosecutors and the people and solve all problems through dialogue and persuasion."