Scandal suspect gets new top post

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Scandal suspect gets new top post

President Lee Myung-bak yesterday named the alleged mastermind of the “Yeongpo-gate” surveillance scandal as the new vice minister at the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

Park Young-joon was one of 23 new vice ministerial officials appointed by the Blue House in a routine administrative reshuffle.

The naming of Park, a top official in the Prime Minister’s Office, has previously been named as a suspect in the surveillance scandal by prosecutors last month.

The scandal involved an illegal probe of a businessman critical of President Lee by an ethics watchdog team for public officials in the Prime Minister’s Office. Park successfully resisted pressure to step down from the post.

The prosecutors’ probe into the case appeared to come to a close this week after three former officials in the Prime Minister’s Office were indicted.

However, the prosecutors said they had failed to find evidence linking Park to the illegal surveillance.

“The truth will come out as the passage of time will clear up these misunderstandings,” Park said after his new appointment was announced. Park said he would focus on energy diplomacy in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Park was known as a close adviser to both President Lee and his elder brother, Rep. Lee Sang-deuk, and was in charge of Seoul’s efforts to increase official development aid to poor countries during his time at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Lee Yong-gul, the vice finance minister, was named as the new vice defense minister to head efforts to reform the defense establishment after the recent sinking of the Cheonan. During his term in the finance ministry, Lee led the government’s stimulus program to rescue the economy from the effects of the global financial crisis.

Chang Soo-man, the former vice defense minister, was named as the head of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration.

Seol Dong-keun was appointed education vice minister. Seol is known for his education reforms as he served two terms as Busan’s regional education superintendent and the country’s education superintendent in 2007. During his time in office, Seol pushed to lower private education costs, reform English-language programs and improve education administration.

The former presidential spokesman Park Sun-kyoo was named second vice culture minister while the former head of the National Library of Korea, Mo Cheol-min, was named as first vice culture minister.

Kim Hae-jin, a former inspector for Korail and considered close to minister without portfolio Lee Jae-oh, was named as the vice minister for special affairs.

Yoo Sung-kull, head of the finance ministry’s budget bureau, was promoted to vice finance minister, while Lee Joon-gyu, ambassador for overseas Koreans and consulate affairs, was assigned to head the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security.Yook Dong-han, a former official in the finance ministry’s economic policy bureau, was appointed as vice minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]
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