A drunk Blue House

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A drunk Blue House

Rep. Shim Jae-chul of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) irked the Blue House with his accusation that the presidential office has spent over 240 million won ($212,596) in questionable late-night and weekend activities. The Blue House rebuked, saying that the president’s office works around the clock, 365 days a year. It should be a relief to know that the president’s office, as well as the administration, remains vigilant around the clock. But whether work is the only thing keeping officials busy late at night and over the weekends remains a question after a series of incidents.

Kim Jong-chun, the Blue House’s protocol secretary, was caught drunk driving by police not far from the Blue House. He was stopped by police about 12:30 a.m. on Friday. He claimed he had attended a dinner for his associates. His blood alcohol level was 0.120 percent, enough to have his license revoked.

President Moon Jae-in has ordered tougher punishments for drunk driving after a 22-year-old soldier on a leave was killed by a drunk driver last month. He called drunk driving a “murderous act.” A bipartisan agreement was made on Nov. 5 to seek tougher action against drunk drivers. Yet, a Blue House staff member has been caught driving drunk. Regardless of the circumstances, this is inexcusable.

While Rep. Shim and the Blue House were engaged in a fierce spat over expenditures, an official from the presidential security office was detained by police for assaulting a citizen under the influence of alcohol. How can the Blue House sound persuasive about working around the clock when a drunken staff member aggresses a citizen and police late on a Saturday night?

This kind of behavior cannot occur unless they result from the innate belief that the members of the Blue House are above the law.

Cho Kuk, the senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, listed all the achievements by the Moon administration over the last 18 months on his Facebook page on Sunday. Still, there may be areas where people feel unsatisfied, he added. If the Blue House really knows that some of its polices and attitudes do not please the majority of the people, it should act to correct them, not make excuses.

The Blue House must not think these cases can be resolved by sacking some of its staff. It must take the time to examine whether its governance has genuinely aided people’s lives.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 26, Page 30
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