Cho Kuk must go

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Cho Kuk must go

The opposition has joined forces to push out Lee Mi-sun, justice nominee for the Constitutional Court, on allegations of insider trading. The left-wing Justice Party, who united with the ruling Democratic Party (DP) to field a single liberal candidate against a conservative rival in the April 3 by-election, issued a statement opposing the appointment, as it goes “against the common senses of the public.”

The Justice Party demanded “convincing corrective action” amid a “serious red alert” over the Blue House screening system. The members from the conservative opposition Liberty Korea Party and Bareunmirae Party on the legislative legal and judiciary committee also claimed Lee had no merit apart from the fact that she was a female candidate in her 40s who built a career while lacking a degree from an elite school in Seoul.

Financial authorities said they would study if her stock purchases were illegal. The public has become fatigued by the repeated controversies over the presidential choices for senior officials. Yet the Blue House does not seem to mind the growing public complaints and skepticism over the appointment system under the responsibility of Cho Kuk, senor secretary for civil affairs. Lee and her husband made 5,500 transactions of stocks related to a single business group, and yet the Blue House found no abnormalities. Either it is clueless or just self-absorbed.

Cho is adding pressure to the president and the ruling party by clinging to his position. The polls show failed appointments have been hurting public confidence in the president. The approval rating of President Moon Jae-in that hit 84 percent in June 2017, a month after he took office, sank to 74 percent two months later due to controversies over his administrative choices and his endorsement despite legislative opposition. The rating slipped to 65 percent when his choice of chief justice to the Constitutional Court was rejected by the legislature in September 2017. The rating also received a blow after Kim Ki-sik, former governor of the Financial Supervisory Service, resigned from office soon after being appointed in April 2018 amid suspicious political donation.

Moon’s approval rating has lately hit the bottom of 43 percent after his spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom stepped down due to controversy over speculative real estate investments. Ha Tae-kyung of the Bareunmirae Party sneered that Cho makes a perfect trojan horse for the Blue House. Even the ruling party is shaking its head over the fiascoes.

The personnel and civil affairs secretaries under former President Roh Moo-hyun resigned after Lee Ki-joon, who was nominated for deputy prime minister for education, withdrew amid controversies in 2005. Cho must ask himself if he is really doing the president a favor by staying.

JoongAng Ilbo, April 12, Page 30
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