Moon aide tried to sway hiringProsecutors collected testimony that a secretary of President Moon Jae-in allegedly reprimanded officials at the Environment Ministry last year after they dropped a candidate the Blue House recommended for an organization affiliated with the ministry.
A source with knowledge about the tip-off exclusively told the JoongAng Ilbo recently that prosecutors gained the information when they questioned former and current ministry officials.
Shin Mi-sook, Moon’s secretary for balanced personnel affairs, is also said to have forced Environment Ministry officials to submit a report detailing their reasons behind the disqualification.
For months, prosecutors have been investigating suspicions that the Environment Ministry used a blacklist to remove officials from organizations affiliated with the ministry and filled their vacancies with associates of Moon. That blacklist is believed to have reflected the preferences of the Blue House.
Based on recent testimony, prosecutors believe Shin played a critical role in the alleged hiring malpractices. Some Blue House officials within Shin’s office were summoned last weekend and Shin herself is expected to be summoned for questioning in the coming days, perhaps as early as this weekend.
Former and current environment officials were said to have told prosecutors that Shin was furious last July when a candidate the Blue House recommended for a standing auditor position at the Korea Environment Corporation was disqualified during the first document screening process. That candidate is known to have been a former executive at a media company surnamed Park.
According to sources who spoke with the JoongAng Ilbo about the ongoing probe, Environment Ministry officials, at the time, were allegedly forced to compile a report explaining why Park was rejected. The deputy environment minister visited the Blue House to try and quell Shin’s anger, but a month later, he was fired from his post.
The policy adviser for Kim Eun-kyung, the environment minister at the time, told the JoongAng Ilbo she also visited the Blue House around that time to meet Shin and try to mend fractured relations between the presidential office and Environment Ministry.
The media executive was later appointed the head of a company that an organization under the Environment Ministry invested in.
Hiring procedures for the Korea Environment Corporation’s standing auditor position suddenly came to a halt in late July when a senior official at the Environment Ministry, who was a member of a committee within the Korea Environment Corporation that had a crucial say in the corporation’s recruitment process, announced none of the candidates who passed the final job interview would be hired.
The Environment Ministry then announced that they would restart their hiring process all over again, and the position eventually went to a person who was part of Moon’s presidential election campaign.
Prosecutors are trying to figure out whether the Blue House pulled some strings.
The Blue House officials who were summoned last weekend are said to have told prosecutors that the presidential office did make recommendations for executive positions at organizations affiliated with ministries, but did not interfere in the actual hiring procedures. The officials were said to have stressed that the Blue House had the right to make those recommendations because Moon has the authority to appoint executives at government-affiliated organizations.
BY PARK TAE-IN [email@example.com]
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