Nominee for venture minister to face grilling

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Nominee for venture minister to face grilling

Venture minister nominee Hong Jong-haak is expected to face a tough grilling during a parliamentary confirmation hearing next month amid rising criticism of his family’s property inheritance and controversial remarks he made in the past.

Soon after President Moon Jae-in tapped him to lead the newly-minted Ministry of SMEs and Startups last week, the former economics professor and lawmaker came under fire for a recent spike in his family’s assets and his blistering criticism of family-run conglomerates.

The hearing for him is set for Nov. 10.

His appointment does not require parliamentary approval, but disapproval will impose a political burden on Moon, given that his first pick for the SME minister withdrew amid disputes over his religious and historical views.

Opposition lawmakers have zeroed in on his family’s inheritance of property from his mother-in-law, which may not be illegal but seemingly contradicts with his views that are sharply critical of family-owned conglomerates.

Hong has reported to the government that his family had a total of 4.95 billion won ($43.7 million) in assets in 2016, which is up from 2.17 billion won reported in 2012. The assets include those that his teenage daughter inherited from her grandmother in 2015.

Hong’s aides said that all the gains were legitimate and the relevant taxes were paid.

But critics took issue with his earlier position against such large transfers of wealth among relatives.

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