A mass exodus

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A mass exodus

Blue House staff has been making a flurry of exits to run in the April parliamentary election. Yoon Young-chan, senior presidential secretary for public communications, Lee Yong-sun, senior secretary for civil affairs, Chung Tae-ho, senior secretary for job creation, and Han Byung-do, senior secretary for political affairs, have already packed up to prepare for campaigning.

When counting aides, secretaries and administrative officials, around 70 from the Blue House will be in the running during the upcoming election. Youn Kun-young, director for State Affairs Planning and Monitoring Office, became the latest to leave the Blue House. Youn, one of Moon’s closest aides, is expected to bid for Seoul’s Guro B district after SMEs and Startup Minister Park Young-sun announced that she would not run in the election. Joo Hyung-chul, an adviser to the president on economic affairs, is mulling resigning after discussing his bid for the Daejeon ticket with the party.

Presidential spokesperson Ko Min-jung is also rumored to follow suit. Her predecessors Park Soo-hyun and Kim Eui-kyeom have already expressed wishes to vie in the legislative election. Presidential aides are free to run in the election, but the Blue House has never produced so many election contestants. Under presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye, there were about 10. Under President Roh Moo-hyun, there were about 20 to 30. Even the ruling Democratic Party is joking that the so-called “Moon kids” will be dominating the election.

The election exodus has brought about changes to the Blue House. The State Affairs Planning and Monitoring Room had to break up after its chief Yoon left. Joo, who had replaced his predecessor Kim Hyun-chul, was in office for just 10 months.

If Blue House credentials are designed to aid aspiring politicians, it is a serious matter. Neutrality of the presidential office will come under question and governance could face challenges. Many already suspect Moon loyalists are being fielded in the upcoming election to put off a lame-duck period for Moon. The excess recruitment of Moon loyalists could damage the ruling party like it did for the conservative party under former President Park Geun-hye.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 7, Page 30
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