Changing her stripes

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Changing her stripes

In a confirmation hearing Wednesday at the National Assembly, lawmakers harshly criticized Rep. Park Young-sun, a nominee to head the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, for not submitting required documents to prove her qualifications to head the ministry. As an opposition lawmaker, Park was once called a “sniper in confirmation hearings” thanks to her ability to dig into the private lives of candidates for top government positions. When the tables were turned and she became a nominee, however, she stirred controversy by not presenting 145 documents out of 2,252 documents demanded by her lawmaker peers.

Park has long been under suspicion for her first son’s dual nationality and admission to an expensive foreign school, her underreporting of properties, plagiarism, and a belated payment of tax. She is also suspected of paying interns in her office with donations. Nevertheless, the nominee did not submit data needed to clear such suspicions. Opposition lawmakers say those missing documents involve her apartment rent contracts, her children studying overseas and their scholarships. Such documents can hardly be classified as privileged information. If she was asking the questions, would she accept such excuses?

When asked why she did not submit the documents, Park expressed concerns about the possibility of her privacy being exposed. “I don’t know why such personal information is needed for confirmation hearings. But if you insist, I can show you,” she said. A big problem with Park is her brazen refusal to meet the legitimate demand for documents, but a bigger problem is her arrogant attitude. She triggered outrage from opposition lawmakers by citing the need to get the consent of her husband and children living overseas after being pressured to submit their financial data.

In the hearing room, an opposition lawmaker played a video clip showing choice moments of Park attacking nominees during confirmation hearings in the past. In the video, she urges a nominee to head the prosecution to submit the documents she demanded of him. In other footage, she threatens a nominee to head the Ministry of Justice to submit documents because “confirmation hearings are equivalent to a legislative audit or probe of the government.” To another nominee, she asks a humiliating question. “Don’t you feel the need to recover public trust by submitting all the documents?” she asks. Rep. Park is living proof of how an individual can change her stripes when the need arises.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 28, Page 30
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