The arrest of Shincheonji leader Lee Man-hee on July 31 did not create sensation nor celebration in South Korea but more of a collective shrug. Nonetheless, embattled Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae is trying to leverage the arrest of the unpopular figure to defend herself from criticism over her alleged interference in the public prosecutorsí office.

The reason for the muted response is because Korea has already gotten coronavirus pretty well under control. With only about thirty or forty new cases a day, the cover-up by the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, at once a national scandal and international news in February, does not seem such a significant event in hindsight. The global spread of coronavirus shows that, one way or another, coronavirus was going to make its way to South Korea. Comparatively speaking, Korea has not been hit too hard.

The ruling Democratic Party is, however, trying to use their case against Shincheonji as a shield against criticism of their prosecutorial policies. Minster Choo has suggested criticism against her prosecutorial reform plan is being pushed by Shincheonji and its sympathizers.

After United Future Party (UFP) Rep. Jang Je-won aggressively questioned Choo in a video that went viral, Choo fired off a tweet thread suggesting a conspiracy. The broadcast video was made three days after the arrest warrant for Lee was issued, she wrote.

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