Achilles’ heel of Park Blue House are prosecutors

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Achilles’ heel of Park Blue House are prosecutors

The Park Geun-hye administration has been hit by a string of scandals since its inauguration two years ago. One common denominator among the biggest embarrassments is that the person at the center of the scandal was a former prosecutor.

The latest uproar was touched off by a former prosecutor who defied a direct order given by the presidential chief of staff to answer questions by lawmakers at the National Assembly about a leaked Blue House report.

Kim Young-han, the presidential secretary of civil affairs and a former prosecutor of nearly 30 years, sent shock waves in the Blue House by refusing to testify at the National Assembly Friday and offering his resignation instead. It was accepted by the Blue House Saturday.

Kim said the Assembly hearing was “politically motivated” and that it was better for him to give up his post so he could maintain his integrity.

Cho Eung-cheon, the former presidential secretary for civil service discipline accused of leaking the bombshell presidential document, is also a former prosecutor. Over the past two months, Cho’s stinging criticisms of the way his former colleagues at the Blue House had dealt with personnel appointments had surprised and infuriated many at the presidential office.

The first scandal that implicated a former prosecutor took place less than a month after the Park government took power. In March 2013, allegations that then-Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-eui was bribed with sexual entertainment by a local businessman when he was stationed in Gangwon in the mid-2000s forced him to step down from the No. 2 position at the ministry. Rumors that there was a recorded video showing Kim having sexual relations with a woman became the talk of the town.

Prosecutors later cleared him of the charges, causing a backlash that they did so because Kim was a former prosecutor himself.

Another case involved Chae Dong-wook, who stepped down as prosecutor general amid allegations that he had a son born out of wedlock during an affair. Prosecutors later concluded the allegation was true and Chae was the father of a boy with a woman surnamed Lim, although Chae did not take a DNA test.

Critics of the Park administration believed Blue House officials leaked the personal information to oust the top prosecutor, who had commanded a full investigation into the national spy agency’s meddling in the 2012 presidential election to help then-Saenuri candidate Park win.

President Park’s penchant for former prosecutors to be in charge of the Blue House’s affairs is seen in her choice of Kim Ki-choon, a former prosecutor, as her chief of staff and of Chung Hong-won, also a retired prosecutor, as prime minister.

Experts say the scandals occur partly because of a lack of communication at the Blue House and President Park’s top-down governing style.

“There is so much misunderstanding and disgruntlement within the Blue House and among senior officials because all major policy decisions are made top-down,” said Kim Hyung-jun, a professor of political science at Myungju University. “There is no group thinking at the Blue House now.” BY HEO JIN, KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]




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