Nominees in trouble

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Nominees in trouble

President Moon Jae-in is urging opposition parties to reconsider their veto of the remaining five nominees to head government ministries. The Blue House does not want any of them to step down, as seen in the cases of Cho Dong-ho, the former science minister nominee, and Choi Jeong-ho, the former land minister nominee, after their confirmation hearings. The presidential office is poised to press ahead with the appointments of the five nominees if Moon’s request for reconsideration is not met by the deadline. In Korea, a president can appoint cabinet ministers even without consent of the legislature.

Meanwhile, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) strongly opposes appointments of all five nominees. It is convinced that three of them — Chin Young, the interior minister nominee, Moon Seong-hyeok, the oceans ministry nominee, and Park Yang-woo, the culture minister nominee — are ineligible for their jobs, and demands that two of them — Kim Yeon-chul, the unification ministry nominee, and Park Young-sun, the minister of SMEs and startups nominee — step down voluntarily.

Among the five nominees, Kim, the unification minister nominee, and Park, the minister of SMEs and startups nominee, are confronting serious challenges to their appropriateness as top government officials. Kim attempted to pass his confirmation hearing by changing his positions on critical issues such as North Korea’s sinking of the Cheonan warship in 2010, the 2008 murder of a South Korean tourist on Mount Kumgang by a North Korean guard and international sanctions on North Korea. Yet criticism of his skewed views toward the recalcitrant country and his subpar remarks on conservative administrations’ policies have not subsided. Opponents say his appointment translates into a brazen challenge to the decades-old Korea-U.S. alliance.

In the meantime, Park Young-sun, the minister of SMEs and startups nominee, has only fueled suspicions about her ethical standards after an LKP lawmaker claimed that she remodeled her house for free by helping a construction company win a bid for the construction of a massive semiconductor complex in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi. The opposition lawmaker claimed she did not have to pay the remodeling cost, which amounted to 300 million won ($264,434), in return for granting the favor. Park flatly denied the allegation, but has not presented any evidence to prove otherwise — she must clear such suspicions.

In such circumstances, the Blue House must find out who is really accountable for its failed screening system rather than rush to appoint unqualified nominees to important positions in government.

JoongAng Ilbo, April 2, Page 30
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