Document backs up ministry’s blacklist

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Document backs up ministry’s blacklist

Prosecutors investigating suspicions that the Environment Ministry had a blacklist of officials and filled vacancies with associates of President Moon Jae-in recently got hold of a document that allegedly shows the Blue House chose executives for several public organizations affiliated with the ministry before recruiting procedures began - and pressured the ministry to give those candidates special treatment.

A source who asked not to be named told the JoongAng Ilbo about the latest development in a months-long probe that began with angry calls from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) last December.

The conservative party submitted a petition to prosecutors demanding they investigate top officials in the Environment Ministry, including former Minister Kim Eun-kyung, on charges of abuse of power.

The LKP, at the time, claimed the ministry had a blacklist of 24 public servants based on their political inclinations and used it to oust some of them. It claimed the Moon Blue House was behind the purge.

Prosecutors have been trying to determine whether the Blue House was indeed involved.

The recently acquired document could prove that.

Officials in the Blue House’s presidential senior secretary for personnel affairs are expected to be summoned for questioning soon, perhaps as early as next week.

The Blue House has denied any fault in the appointment practices of its administration, saying it is the very job of the presidential senior secretary for personnel affairs to consult with ministries on the “direction” of their appointments.

Prosecutors think differently. If it turns out the Blue House chose certain candidates before the public hiring procedures began and coerced the Environment Ministry into favoring them, then that would qualify as “systematic employment corruption,” prosecutors say.

According to the source who spoke with the JoongAng Ilbo, the document featured a list of candidates who applied for executive positions, and there was a special mark near the names of people who were recommended by the Blue House.

Former Environment Minister Kim also knew about the recommendations, said the source.

Prosecutors were also said to have acquired evidence that allegedly shows that the ministry told the recommended candidates the questions they were going to be asked in job interviews beforehand, and provided them answers.

Their resumes were given far higher points than other candidates, too.

Thirteen executives currently working in institutes affiliated with the Environment Ministry have some connection with the ruling Democratic Party or worked on Moon’s presidential election campaign.

For instance, Kwon Young-up, chairman of the Korea National Park Service, was placed ninth in the document review stage of recruitment but somehow made it among the top five candidates called for interviews.

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