Justice minister nominee refuses to withdraw despite allegations

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The nominee for South Korea’s justice minister on Friday apologized for a string of allegations but said he would not withdraw his nomination.

“If given a chance, I will achieve the public’s aspirations — overhaul of the prosecution and freeing the Justice Ministry from the prosecution,” Ahn Kyong-whan said, making clear his intension to go through a parliamentary confirmation hearing.

Ahn Kyong-whan (Yonhap)

Speaking at a press briefing, which he had asked for, Ahn sought to explain and defend himself on a raft of accusations raised against him, from his illegal marriage registration to his purported peddling of influence at his son’s school to prevent him from being expelled. The former head of the nation’s human rights watchdog is also under fire for what critics say is a sexist perception of women revealed in his books and columns.

Ahn admitted to breaking the law in 1975 to illegally register a marriage without the bride’s consent or knowledge. He forged his then-girlfriend’s stamp. The court invalidated the marriage a year later and Ahn did not face criminal punishment.

“I made a stupid mistake to (someone) whom I loved and her family out of my selfishness. It was a fault that I cannot be excused for,” he said. “Since then, I have regretted and atoned for what I did through my life.

But he said the incident has nothing to do with his ability to perform his duty as a justice minister.

“What happened long ago is clearly my fault. I will never forget that until I die. But it is not desirable for me to have my whole life as a scholar and writer to be denied because of the incident,” he said.

He refuted claims that he had wielded undue influence over his son’s school as head of the human rights watchdog. “I have never intervened or peddled undue influence in the process of the school’s disciplinary action,” he said.

His son was caught for bragging about bringing a girl to a man-only dormitory while attending an elite high school in 2014. The school’s disciplinary committee decided to expel him in a unanimous ruling. But the punishment was reduced to a one-week self-reflection period after Ahn sent the school a petition.

Ahn also said he had no intention to disparage women and the writing was to reveal men’s nature and urges so that he could offer an opportunity for men to reflect on themselves.

What he meant in the book was taken out of context, he said, adding, “I sincerely ask you to get the full context of the book.”

In the book titled “What is a Man,” Ahn described women as “a necessary companion to alcohol-fueled gatherings.” “There should be women at alcohol-fueled gatherings. If none, there should be at least mothers-in-law around you,” he said.

Ahn also appeared to justify men’s purchasing of sex, saying “Wives, like all other Korean mothers, have no interest in taking care of their husbands in bed as they are immersed in children’s education.”

President Moon Jae-in nominated Ahn earlier this week, saying his apparent lack of ties to the established powers and ample experience of advocating human rights make him the right person to revamp the powerful state organ with exclusive rights to indict.

By Ock Hyun-ju (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)


Source  :  The Korea Herald

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