A strange revampGiven the significance of the Blue House revamp President Moon Jae-in has come up with, it could help empower the national governance of his administration. However, concerns outweigh hopes. After six top aides in the presidential office, including the chief of staff, tendered their resignations last week, the public is wondering whether a revamp really can help him run the nation. One question that can’t be ignored: Did the aides choose their residential properties over their boss’s call to dispose of them and help him rein in soaring real estate prices?
The six senior presidential aides resigning their posts in the Blue House include Moon’s political affairs secretary Kang Gi-jung, civil affairs secretary Kim Jo-won, public communication secretary Yoon Do-han and two others. But the way they reacted to a presidential order to sell their extra houses only fueled public anger.
Moon’s Chief of Staff Noh Young-min invited sneers after he decided to sell a cheap apartment in North Chungcheong instead of an expensive one in southern Seoul. Senior Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs Kim Jo-won was strongly criticized after trying to sell his valuable apartment in Jamsil, southern Seoul, at prices higher than average. After public outrage erupted, a Blue House official nonchalantly said, “Men usually don’t know about real estate deals.”
Kim is being criticized for his loyalty to an apartment over his position as senior presidential secretary for civil affairs. A sense of dedication to public service was nowhere to be seen. Kim and the chief of staff have allegedly been feuding over the issue. If the two could not reach a compromise on the administration’s top issue, it would have been better if they had left the Blue House earlier.
The presidential office has continued fueling confusion over the government’s real estate policy by dilly-dallying on whether to lift decades-old regulations on green belt zones. The Blue House was not able to hammer out an agreement with the Seoul Metropolitan Government on whether to ease regulations on high-rise buildings in central Seoul, either. And yet Moon’s policy chief Kim Sang-jo and senior economic secretary directly involved in the government’s real estate policy have been excluded from the revamp. Why?
After the ruling Democratic Party’s landslide victory in the April 15 parliamentary elections, approval ratings for President Moon and the party have noticeably declined. That’s a stark warning to Moon with less than two years left in office. He must change his policy direction and seek cooperation with opposition parties before it is too late.
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