A suspicious departure

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A suspicious departure

The abrupt resignation of Song Kwang-yong, the presidential secretary for education and culture, leaves a lot of questions unanswered. First, suspicions loom over the timing of his stepping down and the way he resigned. Song, former president of the Seoul National University of Education, left the Blue House only three months after his appointment and right after the Incheon Asian Games, which is under his jurisdiction, kicked off. Moreover, he tendered his resignation on the very day President Park Geun-hye embarked on a six-night and seven-day trip to Canada and the United States, not the mention the acceptance of his resignation on the same day.

Though Song’s sudden departure raises many questions, the Blue House only came up with the explanation that he wanted to go back to the campus. No one can believe that. If that was the real reason, he wouldn’t have had to resign so abruptly. A lack of proper explanations by the Blue House only leads to wild speculation.

All the circumstances suggest a speedy resignation as censure for some kind of misconduct. If that’s the case, the Blue House must announce that he had to be replaced. Citizens need to know what urgent necessity forced him to resign so quickly. If the Blue House cannot ease people’s growing suspicions, it can hardly keep their trust because they will surely feel that the government is not doing its job transparently and that its members are engaged in improper activities being swept under the Blue House carpet.

From the start, this government has been under fire for its opaque appointments of senior officials. President Park was attacked for her appointment style after Choi Dae-seok, a transition committee member and a strong hopeful for minister of unification, was abruptly replaced for unclarified reasons in January 2013. Park’s appointment fiasco continued until July when Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Yoo Jin-ryoung had to suddenly resign even before his successor was nominated.

U.S. President Barack Obama came into the press room at the White House when his press secretary James Carney was announcing his resignation, and expressed his deep appreciation and trust. He had clearly discussed the issue of his leaving with him earlier.

Senior secretaries are the closet aides to the president. Unless the Blue House handles their resignation as transparently as possible, it will no doubt have trouble getting people’s trust back.

JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 22, Page 38

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