Fix the holes in the screenKim Hak-eui, vice minister of the Ministry of Justice, resigned amid allegations and media reports he was among senior bureaucrats and politicians who were entertained with sex in return for giving favors to a corrupt construction businessman. He was promoted by the new government eight days ago. He denied the allegations, saying he resigned because his name was cited in the media. Prosecutors will have to verify the truth, but the incident again underscores the flaws and loopholes in the recruitment and appointment system of President Park Geun-hye and her presidential team. The oversight in Kim’s case is serious because he is a senior figure of a law enforcement office.
The police was investigating the sex-for-influence case before the vice ministerial-level appointment. The presidential secretariat heard the rumor late February, then checked with the prosecution and police. It decided it was okay to proceed with the appointment after hearing from police and the candidate’s wife. But whether it is true or not, it should not have taken lightly the fact that a senior figure of the judiciary branch was associated with a large-scale sex party and sex-tape scandal. It is entirely different from wild scandals about celebrities. It could undermine the authority and credibility of the government and law enforcement. The presidential office’s moral standards are in question if it indeed took the problem lightly.
Kim Haing, spokeswoman for the Blue House, said the presidential office confronted Kim about the rumor, but he denied any wrongdoing. That’s not good enough. If the presidential office screens its candidates simply by asking questions, its appointment process is hardly credible. The Blue House kept silent until the media reported Kim was on the sex tape. Worse, the presidential office has shown no accountability in the matter. It simply commented through a spokesman it will handle the resignation. It mouthed no word of apology for the contentious choice for a senior government post. We can hardly consider the act responsible.
The case is drawing huge interest from the public not just because it is a sex scandal. It showed the ugly and decadent behavior of the rich and powerful. It could trigger public rage and aggravate resentment toward the elite depending on the outcome of the investigation. The Blue House seriously lacks judgment if it made the appointment without considering the potential repercussions and failed to study the police report thoroughly. The capacity of the secretariat would also be in question if it did not report the matter to the president beforehand. In every way, the Blue House cannot avoid the criticism of incompetence in appointments. It needs to fix its recruitment and screening system.