Baek Won-woo named as secretary for civil affairs

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Baek Won-woo named as secretary for civil affairs

President Moon Jae-in on Thursday named Baek Won-woo, a former two-term lawmaker, as the secretary for civil affairs, a post responsible for analyzing public sentiment and maintaining the ethics of the presidential family.

“Baek is a former two-term lawmaker who once worked as a staffer in the senior civil affairs secretary’s office of the Roh Moo-hyun Blue House,” said Park Soo-hyun, a presidential spokesman.

According to Park, Moon made the decision of appointing a politician, not a jurist, to the post because he wants someone who can give straightforward comments. “There are already many jurists in office,” Park said. He also said it was not a decision based on favoritism. The 51-year-old former lawmaker started his political career by serving as Roh’s aide in 1996. South Chungcheong Governor An Hee-jung introduced the two.

Baek worked as a political secretary during Roh’s 2002 presidential campaign. In 2003, he joined the Roh Blue House as an aide to Moon, who was the senior civil affairs secretary at the time.

He won a lawmaker seat in the 2004 general election and was reelected in 2008. During Moon’s 2012 presidential campaign, Baek worked as Moon’s special advisor for politics.

Many remember Baek for his outburst toward President Lee Myun-bak during Roh’s funeral in 2009. The former president jumped from a rocky cliff in his hometown of Bongha, South Gyeongsang, on May 23, 2009, amid the prosecution’s investigation into a series of corruption allegations involving him, his family and aides.

The ceremony took place at the courtyard of Gyeongbok Palace and was broadcast live nationwide. As Lee and his wife approached the alter to lay flowers, Baek abruptly ran toward the presidential couple and shouted, “You must apologize! You murdered him in political retaliation! President Lee must apologize to President Roh!”

After security guards removed Baek, Moon approached Lee, lowered his head and offered an apology.

Moon made the rare move of hiring non-prosecutors as his civil affairs aides to support his plan to overhaul the prosecution. He earlier appointed Cho Kuk, a professor of law at Seoul National University, as the senior civil affairs secretary to push forward the reform.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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