Shame on Kim the CIO chief

Home > Opinion > Editorials

print dictionary print

Shame on Kim the CIO chief

Kim Jin-wook — the founding chief of the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO) created under the Moon Jae-in administration — maintained that he would not offer to resign when a new conservative president takes office. In an email to employees, he said he would do his utmost for the agency to take root. Kim was declaring that he did not wish to step down before his term ends in 22 months.

In the email, he said the fledgling agency was going down the “road not taken.” He regretted that the agency had stumbled in the public eye last year. He stressed modesty and self-reflection to work with prudence while calling for political neutrality and independence.

The agency mostly focused on opposition party presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol ahead of the March 9 election, raising questions about political neutrality. The leadership has been one disappointment after another. Kim’s missteps over the last year has been too many and embarrassing to list.

Kim offered his official car to pick up Lee Sung-yoon, chief of the Seoul High Prosecutors’ Office, for questioning. He even ordered his subordinates to look into phone records of a TV Chosun reporter who remarkably favored Lee. When Lee’s indictment records were leaked, Kim had his investigators combed through the phone records of a JoongAng Ilbo reporter and their family members. Claims of surveillance have been made by hundreds of media outlets, civilian organizations and opposition party members. Kakao chat platforms were also looked into.

In the email, Kim said he looked back to see if his deeds were appropriate.

Deputy CIO chief Yeo Woon-guk who is acting as the head on behalf of Kim who tested positive for Covid-19 was denied three times of an arrest warrant for prosecutor Son Sun-sung related to the charge of handing over files on ruling party-related figures to the main opposition party. Yeo admitted that his agency was “amateurish.”

During the campaign, Yoon — former prosecutor general and now president-elect — vowed to do away with the provision to forcibly refer certain cases to the CIO. He said that if fixes are enough, the agency would have to be disbanded. Ahn Cheol-soo, head of Yoon’s transition committee, also agreed that the CIO would be better disbanded, giving the agency “zero” in performance review.

A head of a government agency should not learn work while on duty. Its head title should be given to someone who has full capacity and experience. If the CIO cannot do its role, the annual budget of 20 billion won ($16.5 million) is wasted.

The office needs new leadership that is reliable and neutral in their investigative capabilities. Kim obviously is not fit for the job.
Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)