Nominees with flawsConfirmation hearings for seven nominees to head ministries for the Moon Jae-in administration kick off this week starting with Choi Jeong-ho, Moon’s pick for minister of land, infrastructure and transport. The Blue House and ruling Democratic Party say they have no problem passing the candidates through the legislative screening. But suspicions have been raised once again over their qualifications as top cabinet members.
Choi is known to have obtained the right to live in an expensive apartment in Sejong, the price of which recently soared by up to 400 million won ($352,734). He is also suspected of having made over 1 billion won in profit through a suspicious real estate deal. Such charges raise doubts about his authority as head of the Land Ministry. Interior Minister nominee Chin Young also allegedly made as much as 1.6 billion won in profit through a suspicious real estate transaction.
Unification Minister nominee Kim Yeon-chul has repeatedly made pro-North Korea remarks. As the head of the Korea Institute for National Unification, Kim said the 2008 murder of a South Korean tourist in Mount Kumgang by a North Korean soldier was simply a “rite of passage” for the unification of this divided land. He also attacked Moon’s visit to a military base in uniform as a “publicity stunt.”
Science Minister nominee Cho Dong-ho, who owns four houses, is suspected of faking his residential documents to help his children get into a better school. His two sons also face allegations of special favors for military service. Oceans Minister nominee Moon Seong-hyeok faces charges of draft dodging and of helping his son land a good job thanks to his good connections. Culture Minister nominee Park Yang-woo allegedly fabricated residential information for unstated purposes and questions linger over why his two daughters have so much money in bank accounts. SMEs Minister nominee Park Young-sun faces charges of paying back her composite real estate tax too late and helping her son postpone military service.
A press officer insists the Blue House nominated these nominees after thorough vetting.
The Moon administration has withdrawn nominees before. But it has been increasingly pushing forward appointments despite criticisms. Given the remarks by the Blue House spokesman and others, Moon will most likely pushing his appointments. He must respect the legislature. Otherwise, there is no need for the National Assembly to hold confirmation hearings.
JoongAng Ilbo, March 25, Page 34