Basic decency, gentlemen!

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Basic decency, gentlemen!

On Wednesday, President Moon Jae-in nominated Rhee Chang-yong, director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, as the next governor of the Bank of Korea. The 62-year-old economist is known to be favored by President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol.

But the announcement plainly exposed ongoing conflict between the incumbent president and his successor. Thirty minutes after the Blue House said the appointment was made after taking into account Yoon’s opinion, the transition committee refuted that. “We have never consulted with the Blue House or recommended Rhee for the position,” the committee said. Considering the statement coming from both sides, President Moon seems to have made the nomination in consideration of Yoon’s views and in a spirit of cooperation — but with no actual cooperation from his successor.

The two sides have been feuding over the relocation of the presidential office to the Ministry of National Defense building. Now, they are brawling over the appointments of two members of the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) and the appointment of a standing member of the National Election Commission. In the case of the BAI, if Moon appoints two of the body’s five members, it will be dominated by pro-Moon figures. Yoon can hardly accept that.

We would urge both men to look back and find any such conflict publicly unleashed in the transition periods of outgoing president Kim Young-sam and incoming president Kim Dae-jung or between Roh Moo-hyun and Lee Myung-bak. They will find none.

Moon and Yoon must start respecting one another.

Moon must refrain from appointing senior officials with only 46 days in his term. If his appointments lead to failures in the next administration, that will not make Moon look any better. If Moon exercises his appointment rights to the last minute, it will backfire. Moon shouldn’t want to be remembered as the president who didn’t help with transition.

Yoon should also respect Moon instead of getting emotional. “I will never ask the president to prepare a budget needed for the relocation of the presidential office … I will stay in the office of my transition committee for the time being even after I am sworn in as president,” said Yoon. “If that’s not possible, I can stay in a small makeshift building.” Yoon must not overreact as he faces a plethora of challenges as head of state.

Both the outgoing president and incoming president stressed the importance of integrating the nation. People are disappointed by the way they are behaving only two weeks after the election. We urge them to show some basic decency.
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