Blue House revolving door keeps on spinningNearly half of the 51 presidential secretaries have been replaced since the launch of President Park Geun-hye’s administration in February 2013.
Statistics show that 23 secretaries including five senior secretaries, who are right beneath the president in the Blue House hierarchy, have left. That translates into 45.1 percent of the total.
Most recently, Baek Gi-seung, secretary of government information under the office of public relations, Ryoo Jeung-ah, secretary of tourism under the education and culture office, and Lee Joong-hee, secretary of civil affairs under the civil affairs office, tendered their resignation following the Sewol ferry disaster on April 16, all citing personal reasons.
The departure of the three has added to two already-vacant secretary posts at the Blue House: civil service discipline and civil petitions, both under the civil affairs office. A former prosecutor and a lawyer are being considered for the two positions, according to sources.
The office of civil affairs saw all of its secretaries leave over the past 15 months, largely because the office was embroiled in a number of scandals. Its senior secretary stepped down as the Blue House administered a major reshuffle last August and four secretaries of the sub-divisions of the civil affairs office - civil affairs, civil service discipline, legal affairs and civil petitions - have departed.
“There were some personal considerations for the changes at the office of civil affairs, but the biggest reason would be those secretaries failing to fulfill their duties,” said a politician who is familiar with the situation.
Last year the civil affairs office was singled out as being behind the government’s prying into the private life of then-Prosecutor-General Chae Dong-wook, who was in the middle of an investigation into whether the state-run spy agency interfered in the 2012 presidential campaign to help the chances of Park Geun-hye. A local daily released the allegation that Chae had a son outside his marriage. Although Chae has persistently denied it, the prosecution has recently concluded the teenager was his son.
Lim Jong-hoon, a civil petitions secretary, had to leave after allegations that he was engaged in selecting some of the ruling Saenuri Party’s candidates to run in the June 4 local elections. Government officials are banned from political intervention.
The public relations office has also had all of its members depart except for the manager of Chunchugwan, an annex to the presidential office entirely devoted to the Blue House press. Min Kyung-wook, the news anchor turned presidential spokesman who replaced Kim Haing just three months earlier, has already been in the hot seat after making a series of inappropriate comments in regard to the Sewol disaster. Kim was appointed at the beginning of the administration along with Yoon Chang-jung, who was fired after sexually assaulting a female intern during the presidential trip to Washington last year.
BY SEO JI-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]