Presidential aides under fire over ministerial nominations


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The debate over two failed ministerial nominations continues, with the opposition parties now raising the heat on Senior Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs Cho Kuk and Secretary for Personnel Affairs Hyun-ok.

President Moon Jae-in withdrew the nomination of Cho Dong-ho for the post of science minister and the land minister candidate Choi Jeong-ho, following controversies raised in the parliamentary confirmation hearings. 

Senior Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs Cho Kuk (left) and Secretary for Personnel Affairs Hyun-ok attend the weekly meeting with President Moon Jae-in on Monday. Yonhap

In the hearings, Dong-ho was linked to a host of irregular activities, and became the first candidate to have his nomination withdrawn by the president. Choi on the other hand came under fire for owning three properties in areas with heavy real estate speculation.

While two of the seven nominees, all of whom are opposed by the conservative bloc, failed to make the cut, it appears to have done little to appease the opposition.

“There are no signs of (aides responsible for) personnel vetting resigning or being held responsible. If (the concerned aides) are left alone, it will be laying bare Cheong Wa Dae’s DNA of arrogance,” Rep. Na Kyung-won, floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party said.

“(Cheong Wa Dae) is trying to protect nominees Park Young-su and Kim Yeon-chul by dropping two nominees. In other words it is (an attempt to) cut off the tail.”

Park is a ruling Democratic Party lawmaker up for the post of SMEs minister, and Kim is a left-leaning academic nominated to head the Ministry of Unification.

Na called on Kuk to resign, saying that Moon’s personnel choices since taking office have shown the civil affairs secretary’s incompetence.

Minor opposition parties have also called for Kuk and Hyun-ok to be removed from office, saying that those responsible for vetting the latest ministerial nominees should be held accountable.

Cheong Wa Dae, however, is unlikely to take action against the two senior secretaries.

Speaking on radio on Monday, Cheong Wa Dae vice spokesperson Ko Min-jung said that there are no plans to remove either of the secretaries.

“A decision will be made after listening to opinions of many people. At present (holding the two secretaries responsible) is not being considered,” Ko said, saying that resignation of the two Chos is not necessarily the right answer.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)


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