Questions unansweredA number of questions regarding the claims of civilian spying by a former investigator in a Blue House special inspection team remain unanswered. Im Jong-seok, chief of staff to President Moon Jae-in, and Cho Kuk, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, were summoned to a National Assembly steering committee meeting, but the meeting turned out to be nothing but various rounds of bitter exchanges of accusations and spats.
The key question was whether Moon’s Blue House also spied on civilians and drew up a blacklist of names to keep track of. Kim Tae-woo, the whistle-blower, claimed that the former special inspection team gathered intelligence on business CEOs, politicians and members of the press. He also insisted that he had reported on the results of his inspection on specific targets. The Blue House denied that such activities had been reported to higher ups. It accused the investigator of individual wrongdoing.
During the hearing, Cho said the civil affairs office under Moon has not spied on civilians or black-listed anyone. Moon’s Chief of Staff Im also flatly denied any spying for political purposes under the Moon administration. Cho accused the inspector of lying and defamation.
Despite strong words from the Blue House, suspicions have only increased. A former finance ministry official claimed that the Blue House ordered the ministry to sack the KT&G CEO and meddled in the appointment of the president of Seoul Shinmun, a national daily of which the government owns a 34 percent stake. Allegations are piling up at the Moon administration’s self-assurance of being pure, clean and honest. In his year-end address, President Moon claimed that the Blue House, as well as all of the public powers of the prosecution, police, national intelligence service and tax agency, are different from the past. Are they really?
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 1, Page 26