[EDITORIALS]Blue House probe falls shortBelatedly, the Blue House has clarified the inappropriate behavior of a presidential personal secretary, Yang Gil-seung, and accepted his resignation. According to an investigation by the Blue House, Mr. Yang’s entertainment at a nightclub cost 2.15 million won ($1,800), much higher than the originally claimed 430,000 won, and he was found to have accepted presents worth 450,000 won. It was disclosed that he was requested to use his influence on the investigation of tax evasion charges involving the nightclub. When we question why these simple facts were not disclosed earlier, we cannot but worry about the Blue House’s inspection capability.
The incident was exposed by the local press one month ago, and the office of the Senior Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs investigated the matter. We wonder why the investigators concluded at that time that nothing was wrong. The Blue House was busy defending Mr. Yang, saying it was only one drink, there was no request for favors and the press has exaggerated, when suspicions were raised recently by national newspapers and television networks.
It is a serious problem that a close aide to the president has lied. People are disappointed by the Blue House team because it tried to cover up facts, relying only on Mr. Yang’s words. It is hard to understand how the senior secretary for civil affairs was so easily deceived and closed the investigation. People wonder whether those at the center of power grant favors to each other in a chain reaction.
The evaluation by the Blue House reveals another problem. The civil affairs secretary said in a statement that the repercussions of the incident are bigger than the incident itself. While the personal secretary to the president has received entertainment worth millions of won, presents, a hotel suite and even a hostess, how could the Blue House react so naively? We wonder whether people will accept the explanation that Mr. Yang only listened to the request for help, but did not use his influence to comply with the request. The Blue House must strengthen its in-house inspection of those close to the seat of power and consolidate its ethical standards.