President pleads for his foreign affairs nominee

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President pleads for his foreign affairs nominee

President Moon Jae-in pleaded for the National Assembly to endorse his nomination of Kang Kyung-wha as the new minister of foreign affairs in light of his upcoming summit meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.

“The current vacancy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is truly a regrettable situation,” said presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun in a press briefing on Friday morning.

“The Moon administration will hold the presidential summit with the United States very soon and the government will need to make appropriate preparations for the G-20 summit next month. The National Assembly has also repeatedly emphasized the importance of the Korea-U.S. alliance.”

Park added, “Nominee Kang has been a figure held in esteem in the international community, and former UN secretaries general Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon, and current Secretary General Antonio Guterres, have all approved of her leadership. [The Blue House] earnestly pleads for the National Assembly to send in the confirmation report soon and help nominee Kang use her experiences at the Foreign Ministry and the UN to open up a new era of Korean diplomacy.”

Park said the president had requested the statement be released in the morning, and that “the statement could be understood as coming from the president.”

On Friday, the National Assembly endorsed Kim Dong-yeon’s appointment as the new deputy prime minister for the economy and finance minister. Kim is the third nominee to be endorsed in the Moon administration after Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon and National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon. Both the People’s Party and the Liberty Korea Party supported his endorsement.

“Given that Kim had served as the presidential secretary on economic and financial affairs and as second vice minister of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance,” said the Assembly’s Strategy and Finance Committee, “there was an agreement that he has the expertise and capability in economic policies and strategic planning.”

Moon’s ruling Democratic Party does not control the majority in the 299 member National Assembly. The Democratic Party has 120 lawmakers, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party 107 and the People’s Party 40.

The Assembly held a meeting on Friday morning to decide on the endorsement of Kim Yi-su, nominated as the chief justice of the Constitutional Court, but the parties could not reach an agreement. The People’s Party remained undecided, while the LKP has been voicing its opposition to Moon’s nomination of Kim.

“The LKP is deeply concerned about Kim’s appointment,” said the party’s floor leader Rep. Joo Ho-young in a floor meeting on Friday. “The LKP strongly opposes nominating Kim as chief justice of the Constitutional Court.”

While the National Assembly approval is mandatory to name a prime minister and Supreme Court’s chief justice, the president has the right to appoint his ministers even if the nominees are not confirmed after hearings. If the National Assembly does not send confirmation reports, Moon can request the legislature to do so within 10 days. After the deadline, the president can formally appoint ministers, but such an action will likely have political repercussions.

The Liberty Korea Party and People’s Party have opposed endorsing Kang as foreign minister.

“Kang not only has serious ethics issues, she is found wanting in the skills and expertise of a foreign minister,” said Rep. Chung Woo-taik, floor leader and acting chairman of the LKP. “The party is looking to sue her for using a fake address.”

Kang admitted she had used a fake address to send her daughter to the school that she graduated from. After the JoongAng Ilbo reported it was actually the address of the school principal and not her relative, as explained by the Blue House, Kang issued an apology.

“Not only are her ethical breaches quite serious,” said Kim Dong-cheol, floor leader of the People’s Party, “but we could not find her suitable to lead the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

BY PARK SANG-WOOK [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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