[EDITORIALS]Administration’s new woesApparently, the vice minister of culture and tourism has exerted his influence to help someone get a job as a university professor. Central figures in this case are new Culture Minister Chung Dong-chea, Vice Culture Minister Oh Jee-chull, and Seo Young-seok, head of Seoprise, a pro-administration Internet media.
Adding to the case is a slow response by the Blue House, which altogether starkly illustrates a lack of a proper governance system in this administration.
What we must first find out is whether Minister Chung was indeed involved. Vice Minister Oh has said, “I’ve met Professor Chung, and all I said was that ‘Minister Chung seems to have interest in this.’”
But Professor Chung puts forth a different story. The professor said, “Vice Minister Oh told me that ‘Minister Chung asked me to find out who, in the ministry, is acquainted with Professor Chung.’”
In addition, the professor said, “The wife of Seo Young-seok, Ms. Kim, told me that she asked Vice Minister Oh to help through Minister Chung.”
By all accounts, Minister Chung didn’t seem to know this was going on. If that is the case, it would be better for everyone, Minister Chung included, that the truth is uncovered.
The explanations offered so far have been weak. Vice Minister Oh defended his actions, saying that he “made the recommendation in passing” and that his actions do not amount to influence-peddling. How can he say that his recommendation to a professor of arts was a “casual” one? He is part of a ministry that has great powers over appointments and budgets for the culture sector.
Mr. Seo’s attitude is also inappropriate. One established fact in this case is that his wife has asked Vice Minister Oh to act on her behalf. But instead of apologizing, Mr. Seo has been criticizing the newspaper that had the article and making excuses.
More deplorable is how the Blue House has responded. The presidential office did not take any action for a week after receiving the professor’s appeal. Minister Chung’s cabinet appointment had been expected for two months, so the Blue House should have verified the facts before Wednesday’s announcement. The Blue House need to review the system by which it gets its presidential aides.