Frustation in assembly over audit no-showsTensions were high at the National Assembly yesterday, as witnesses for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade audit were mostly absent.
During the first day of National Assembly audits for government ministries, the Foreign Ministry was under the most scrutiny over a recent nepotism debacle concerning the unfair employment of ministry workers.
Eight former ministers and directors were reported absent, and the one absence that riled lawmakers the most was former Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, who resigned amid a hiring scandal last month.
Yu was called to the witness stand at the National Assembly after a government investigation discovered that his daughter had been hired by the ministry out of favoritism.
However, Yu informed the assembly’s Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee last Friday that he had deemed it “appropriate to stay out of the country for a period because of psychological shock, health problems and other personal issues” after his resignation on Sept. 8. He also said he needed to rest before upcoming trips.
The former foreign minister is scheduled to take part in research about the Korean Peninsula at Stanford University in the U.S. starting in mid-October. Yu also said he was to be in Japan yesterday and today to give lectures on South Korea-Japan relations at several universities.
Another absence that was noted was that of Yoo Chong-ha, a former foreign minister and current president of the South Korean Red Cross. Yoo’s son is under investigation for unfair employment at the Foreign Ministry, but he is also on a business trip.
Jeon Yun-churl, former head of the Board of Audit and Inspection, was also absent. Jeon’s daughter is one of those being investigated for favoritism when she was employed at the Foreign Ministry.
National Assembly committee members expressed their exasperation at the absences, saying they were “impossible to comprehend.”
By Christine Kim [firstname.lastname@example.org]