Moon’s security service gets fatterThe cabinet chaired by President Moon Jae-in has approved a presidential decree upping the presidential security payroll by another 65. The additional guard would be stationed at Moon’s post-retirement residence in his birthplace of Yangsan, South Gyeongsang. The Presidential Security Service (PSS) added 96 on its payroll in 2019. Under Moon, the quota surged 30 percent, or 161, from 532 to 693.
Security force numbered 550 under President Kim Young-sam and 524 under President Roh Moo-hyun. President Lee Myung-back demoted the PSS to the vice-ministerial level and did not make any new hires even though he hosted the G-20 summit. Yet the guard enlarged by an unprecedented scale under Moon.
During the campaign, Moon vowed to work at the government building in Gwanghwamun instead of the Blue House. He suggested to place the PSS as a division under the National Police Agency. He likely thought of presidential security as a remnant of the military or authoritarian regime.
Moon explained that personal security inevitably had to increase after the drafted police program was scrapped and their former work was transferred to the PSS. The Blue House would have made the detailed explanation as it is aware of its negative image from the past. Still, it does not change the fact that the PSS has become gigantic under his term.
The PSS separately said that it was following the order to cover the void from the police conscription. If the addition is necessary to cover the work of former drafted police, it should have come from the police, not the PSS. Since guarding the president from outside would not require high skills, the police with a workforce of 130,000 could have supplied the extra hand.
Moon’s post-retirement residence also stoked controversy due to its scale. He bought a bulky plot of land of 6,006 square meters (1.5 acres) citing the need to host security guards. The PSS was budgeted to secure 3,295 square meters of land to back Moon’s security after retirement to suggest their increase in the payroll and budget was entirely to service Moon.