Justice Ministry nominee in Seoul, with financial ties to China, has not renounced communist past

by WorldTribune Staff, September 5, 2019

The nominee to head up South Korea’s Ministry of Justice has said he will not renounce his past ties to communism, which included an arrest in 1993 while he was part of a group which called for an armed revolt to create a workers’ socialist country.

Cho Kuk, liberal President Moon Jae-In’s nominee to head up the Ministry of Justice, told the press on Aug. 14 that he is “neither proud nor ashamed” of his past activities in the subversive illegal organization Sanomaeng (Socialist Workers League of Korea).

Cho Kuk. / East Asia Research Center

“In other words, Cho is not ashamed of his efforts to overthrow the government through an armed revolt,” Dr. Taro O wrote in an Aug. 27 report for East Asia Research Center.

Sanomaeng “made explosives, planned to steal weapons from armories, and even made poison pills to commit suicide, if captured,” she noted.

If Cho’s nomination is pushed through, “it also suggests the Moon administration will stay on course and continue to push South Korea toward socialism and orient South Korea toward China and North Korea,” the report said.

Any opposition to Cho’s nomination to head the Ministry of Justice is seen as likely to fail.

“Moon Jae-In has pushed through 16 nominees in a row without the National Assembly’s approval; many of his nominees were controversial, with accusations of various illegal activities,” Tara O wrote. “It is not surprising that the official that vets the nominees for the prosecutor’s office and the Justice Ministry – the Senior Secretary to the President for Civil Affairs and Justice – found nothing wrong with many of the nominee’s illegal and unethical behaviors. Moon pushing them through despite not having the National Assembly’s approval shows Moon’s authoritarian tendencies.”

Tara O also detailed what she said were Cho’s questionable financial activities and assets which includes unexplained links to a Chinese corporation.

“According to the nomination package submitted to the National Assembly, Cho Kuk’s wife Jeong Kyung-Sim, a professor at Dongyang University, agreed to invest ₩6.745 billion ($6.3 million) in the “Blue Core ValueUp Private Equity Fund” managed by Co-Link Private Equity (PE) firm on July 31, 2017. On that day, Cho’s daughter (28) and son (23) also committed to invest ₩355 million ($333,000) each. The total investment committed by Cho’s family is ₩7.455 billion ($7 million).

“The investment agreement occurred about two months after Cho Kuk was appointed as the Senior Secretary to the President for Civil Affairs and Justice (appointed on May 11, 2017). Thus far, the actual amount invested totals ₩1.5 billion ($1.4 million), with the wife investing ₩950 million ($892,000) and Cho’s son and daughter investing ₩50 million ($47,000) each.

“The problem is that the ₩7.455 billion ($7 million) that Cho’s wife and children agreed to invest exceeds Cho’s reported assets of ₩5.64 billion ($5.3 million). The difference is ₩1.8 billion ($1.7 million).

“The questions are 1) how can Cho’s family agree to invest more than they have and 2) where will the additional $1.7 million or more come from and 3) how sound is the strategy of investing the entirety of one’s assets in one fund, unless one is definitely expecting profit? These facts raised the additional question of whether insider information was involved. Does he have information that assures him his family will make good return on investment, or at least not lose the money invested? Is the $525 million investment by China a factor?”

Co-Link Private Equity (PE) “is not very well known,” Tara O wrote. “According to accountants, Co-Link PE is not known in the industry, which is odd, since it is a small industry in which networking is important. Additionally, it does not seem to be located at the registered address in Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. Seoul Economy News staff actually went to the registered address of Co-Link PE, but discovered there was no such company at that address. Private Equity firms usually are run by senior executives from foreign investment banks (IB).”

Co-Link Private Equity and Huakun Science and Technology Development (public) Corporation “signed an agreement at the Intercontinental Hotel in Seoul on April 28, 2016,” Taro O wrote, adding that a photograph from the agreement featured “Cho Kuk’s distant nephew ‘Mr. Cho’ and Luwei.”


Co-Link Private Equity (PE) firm, “was established in early 2016 and received approval from the Financial Supervisory Service on April 12, 2016. Two weeks later on April 28, 2016, Co-Link PE announced that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with China’s Jiangsu Province Huakun Science and Technology Development (public) Corporation to invest ₩600 billion ($525 million) for the creation of the Korea-China Industrial Fund. The MOU was signed when President Luwei of the above Jiangsu provincial government’s public corporation visited Seoul,” Tara O wrote.

Additionally, Cho Kuk’s daughter Cho Min, who is a student at Pusan National University Medical School, “received scholarships for six semesters in a row totaling ₩12,000,000 since 2016, despite failing at least twice,” Tara O wrote. “There are seven students who received the scholarship since 2015, and six of them received the scholarship only once; Cho Min is the only one to receive the scholarship six times.”

Cho had been the Senior Secretary to the President for Civil Affairs and Justice at the Blue House before he resigned the position on July 26 “amidst his 50+ anti-Japan comments on his Facebook account,” Tara O wrote.

Cho, who is currently preparing for the National Assembly hearing for the new position, has also been mentioned as a potential candidate in South Korea’s next presidential election.

“When Moon Jae-In became South Korea’s president in May 2017, he stated: ‘In the Moon Jae-in and Deobureo Minjoo Party (Democratic Party of Korea) administration, opportunity will be equal, the process will be fair, and the result will be just’ ” Tara O noted. “He further said ‘We’ll create a world without privileges and fouls.’ His administration then began to investigate hundreds of people prior to any guilty verdicts from trials in the name of ‘jeokpae cheongsan’ (Jeopkape being deep rooted evil, accumulated ills; cheongsam being liquidation; elimination). Western journalists have used ‘anti-corruption’ as the preferred term.

“Many were jailed and some even committed suicide due to severe pressure and unfairness. Lack of evidence supporting the various accusations was not a problem in the atmosphere where South Korea was portrayed as ‘Hell Joseon,’ an unfair and unjust society that must be corrected.”

In his previous position, Cho and his team oversaw South Korea’s tax agencies, the National Intelligence Service, the prosecution, the courts, the police, the inspector generals and investigative arms, “all of which were busy with the ‘jeokpae cheongsan’ campaign,” Tara O noted. The office is also in charge of vetting personnel to be prosecutors and judges. Such a powerful position as the Senior Secretary for Civil Affairs and Justice was filled by Cho Kuk.”

Moon’s administration, “claims that it is clean and stands for equality, justice, and fairness, while labeling its political opponents as ‘jeokpae,’ ” Taro O wrote.

“As is the case with Im Jong-seok, former Chief of Staff at the Blue House, who angrily shot back at a lawmaker for asking whether he turned away from his Jusapa (KimIlSung’ism) beliefs, Cho Kuk also has not renounced his beliefs about overturning the current system and establishing socialism in South Korea,” Tara O wrote.

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