As President Park Geun-hye continued to lose support in the fall amid snowballing accusations of abuse of authority and influence peddling linked to her personal confidant Choi Soon-sil, the National Assembly instigated an investigation, granting the opposition the right to nominate two candidates for special prosecutor and eight assistant counsels. The President was allowed to appointment the special prosecutor and final four assistant counsels from their list. After former prosecutor Park Young-soo was selected to lead the investigation, Lee Kyu-chul was appointed an assistant counsel on December 5. The DR & AJU Senior Partner is the only former judge among the investigation’s leadership. Previously, Mr. Lee served as Head of the Wonju Branch of the Chuncheon District Court, a researcher on judgment in the Supreme Court and Judge on the Seoul High Court. He entered DR & AJU as a partner in 2010 and now heads one of two litigation teams. As the official spokesperson, Mr. Lee has appeared in national media frequently in the run up to the December 20 launch of the investigation. The Special Prosecutor is expected to report his findings around March 20 but may request 30 additional days. The Constitutional Court must rule no later than early June on whether to uphold the Assembly’s 234 to 56 vote on December 9 to impeach the President. Should six of the nine judges agree to remove her from office, she would lose her presidential immunity and be subject to prosecution should the investigation conclude charges are warranted. The President has said she will abide by the will of the Assembly and Court. The Korean president is limited to a single five-year term. President Park’s would expire in February 2018 if her impeachment is ruled invalid.
Update: Special Prosecutor Park Young-soo has subsequently named DR & AJU associates HONG Jeong Suk and PARK Min Jae to support two of his four assistant counsels, giving the firm three attorneys among the 105-member team.