KCC chief resigns due to aide’s problems

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KCC chief resigns due to aide’s problems

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Choi See-joong

The top communications regulator in Korea and a close aide to President Lee Myung-bak resigned yesterday amid mounting allegations that his former aide received kickbacks from a businessman in return for favors.

“The announcement may appear abrupt, but it is my time to go,” Korea Communications Commission (KCC) Chairman Choi See-joong told reporters at a hastily arranged press conference yesterday afternoon. “I wish to leave because I used up all my physical and emotional energy,” Choi said.

Choi has been under pressure to step down since media reports alleged that one of his aides received money from an operator of a vocational school related to the media.

The aide, surnamed Jeong, allegedly received almost 200 million won ($178,200) from Kim Hak-in, chairman of a college-level vocational school specializing in broadcasting careers. On the allegations, Choi simply commented that media reports can do damage. “Words are frightening,” he said. “Rumors are reported as if they are truth and that is very misleading.”

The remarks were interpreted as Choi not believing the allegations about his aide and his concern over how they are affecting the KCC and its policies.

“I hope that my departure will help the watchdog stave off prejudice and misunderstanding held by the public,” Choi added.

Choi had headed the KCC, the state-run agency that handles the nation’s broadcasting and telecommunications policies, since it was created in 2008. Nicknamed the “political mentor” of President Lee, Choi is a key figure in the Lee administration.

Senior presidential press secretary Choe Guem-nak said Choi offered his resignation on Wednesday. At first, Lee tried to convince him to stay, but finally decided to accept the offer because Choi was so insistent, the secretary said. Choi’s successor will be chosen as soon as possible, he said.

While the KCC spokesman said nothing has been confirmed on the new leadership of the KCC, observers note that Hong Seong-gyu, KCC vice chairman, could take the helm as an interim leader.



By Kim Hyung-eun [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

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