Leadership Vacuum Hits South Korea’s Anti-Corruption Body as Vice Head Retires

SEOUL – The Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO), South Korea's state anti-corruption body, faces a leadership vacuum following the retirement of its vice head, Yeo Woon-kook, on Sunday. This departure occurs just nine days after the exit of the CIO's head, Kim Jin-wook, who concluded his three-year term earlier in the month. Both Kim and Yeo were inaugural leaders of the CIO, established under the previous administration of President Moon Jae-in.

According to Yonhap News Agency, with no immediate progress on appointing their successors, Kim Sun-kyu and Song Chang-jin, heads of the CIO's first and second investigation departments, respectively, will temporarily assume the roles of CIO chief and vice chief. The vacancy comes at a critical juncture, as the candidate recommendation committee for the CIO chief has not met since January 10, failing to finalize two candidates for recommendation to President Yoon Suk Yeol at that time.

The committee is scheduled to convene for its seventh meeting in the current recommendation process on February 6. However, even if it manages to recommend two candidates for the CIO chief position, the leadership gap is expected to continue for some time, considering the necessary steps for the president's official nomination and the subsequent parliamentary confirmation hearing.

During the six prior committee meetings, Oh Dong-woon, a former judge now practicing as a lawyer, emerged as a potential candidate for the CIO chief role, securing recommendations from five of the seven panel members.

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