Revamp the Blue House

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Revamp the Blue House

People are calling for a major reshuffle at the Blue House as it deals with its biggest scandal so far: the leak of an internal report on behind-the-scenes string pulling by former and current aides to President Park Geun-hye. The ruling party is siding with the main opposition urging the dismissal of her chief of staff, Kim Ki-choon, and the three aides referred to as the “doorknobs,” or gateways to the president: Lee Jae-man, presidential secretary for administrative affairs, and Jeong Ho-seong and Ahn Bong-geun, both personal secretaries to the president.

A reshuffle is needed to set Park’s house in order. Regardless of the truth behind the allegations of meddling in state affairs by shadowy powers behind the president, the reputation of the administration has been impaired amid exchanges of accusations and blame among the president’s brother and her former and current aides. The president may go into the lame-duck stage far sooner than usual if she doesn’t act decisively and quickly.

President Park has reshuffled in the past after her spokesman disgraced himself and after the major tragedy of the Sewol ferry sinking. But they were hardly bold moves and seemed more like a rearrangement of the same old faces. A paucity of communication and an overly secretive appointment process, criticized from the very beginning of the president’s term, have yet to be fixed. A lack of transparency and a top-down governance style have led to the recent brouhaha about a secret inner circle. The president is said to have the habit of staying up late to study reports from various government offices, and to keep her own counsel on major affairs.

Her decisions are not made through dialogue or discussion. She remains aloof. This is how her personal secretaries earned the nickname of the “doorknob trio,” because everyone must go through them. People naturally were drawn to them to exploit their power. Park claimed they were just secretaries who ran errands for her. But others saw them as exerting influence over the president. There was a huge gap between what the president and the rest of the world believed.

The three problem secretaries must voluntarily leave the president’s side. They have already lost credibility. They exercised influence beyond their proper roles as presidential aides. They cannot help the president if no one trusts them. The president will be admitting to their secret power if she keeps them on. A reshuffle at the Blue House is also necessary to strengthen discipline. The office has brought shame upon itself for the poor handling of the leak of its own confidential report. The president must act fast.

Joongang Ilbo, Dec. 18, Page 34

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