Whose fault is it anyway?Chung Chan-yong served as the first senior secretary for personnel affairs under President Roh Moo-hyun in the 2000s. He asked, “If the senior presidential secretary for personnel affairs does not take responsibility for recommending a wrong candidate as a presidential aide, does that mean the president should be held accountable for his wrong appointments?” Chung is referring to the recruitment of Kim Gi-pyo as President Moon Jae-in’s anti-corruption secretary. Kim has resigned over controversy about his questionable real estate wealth buildup. After Education Minister Lee Ki-jun resigned over moral issues in 2005, Chung asked President Roh to step down as he recommended a bad candidate for the post. But Roh said to Chung, “How can I fire you when you didn’t do anything wrong?”
The case with Kim — the anti-corruption secretary for President Moon — is the worst among the appointments flops under the Moon administration. Kim was appointed to the office in charge of keeping oversight on corruption of government employees amid the appalling revelation that employees of state-run Korea Housing and Land Corp. engaged in speculative activities using inside information. Just by looking at his real estate records, Kim looked like a professional speculator. Even the ruling Democratic Party (DP) leadership has suggested that Kim Oe-sook — President Moon’s senior secretary for personnel affairs — take responsibility for failing to screen his qualifications as anti-corruption secretary. People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, a civic group friendly to the government, joined the chorus by calling for Kim’s resignation over the real estate controversy.
The Blue House remains defensive, claiming that it is hard to know someone’s wrongdoings unless the candidate tells the truth. The Blue House even said that it’s not the problem the secretary for recruitment has to take responsibility alone. That means President Moon also shares the responsibility for appointing Kim Gi-pyo to the anticorruption secretary post.
Moon has so far refused to accept criticisms for his appointments. He argued that just because the opposition party disagrees with his appointments did not mean they failed. But the public opinion disagrees. In a poll by Gallup Korea in April, the government’s policy had scored most poorly in real estate with a negative response of 81 percent, followed by appointments with negative rate of 65 percent. Moon cannot afford more negative public opinion in his last year in office.