Revamp presidential appointmentsPresident Park Geun-hye has accepted her senior public relations secretary Lee Nam-ki’s resignation for the sexual assault scandal of former Blue House spokesman Yoon Chang-jung during her first official trip to Washington. However, it is regrettable that the presidential office decided not to hold Yoon accountable for the mishap.
The shameful behavior by Yoon at a hotel in Washington was irrefutable misconduct on a personal level. Yet it could be foreshadowing of the administration’s colossal system failure, particularly given all the loopholes in her appointments before the scandal.
The biggest problem, of course, was the president’s obstinate appointment style. Despite her belated remorse for the decision to hire Yoon as spokesman, she went on picking unqualified people for high-profile posts since first appointing Yoon to the job.
Yoon’s immediate boss Lee didn’t fit into his role as senior secretary for public relations. Different from the past when the president wielded exclusive influence in nominations for the ruling party, a senior PR secretary today plays a crucial role in governance - ranging from propagation of the president’s ruling philosophy to adroitly dealing with the press corps to having the guts to confront the president if necessary. Lee was not only unable to see the tremendous repercussions from the scandal but also reported the incident 26 hours after it happened. President Park must look back to see what really went wrong. As many as 14 nominees for high government posts have either dropped out or failed to pass confirmation hearings.
The overly solemn atmosphere of cabinet meetings at the Blue House is another problem. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, an icon of liberalism, described it as “too somber to speak a word.” That also applies to meetings with senior secretaries, which means the president has not been assisted well - critical damage to the president and the people.
The president must fix the problems beginning with new appointments for the PR office. We urge her chief of staff Huh Tae-yeol to take the lead in finding qualified staff. The president must clear the cacophony in the PR office.