Moon, Yoon clash on DSME CEO appointment
The Blue House shot back, expressing "surprise" that the incoming government "covets" the DSME position, which it said should be filled by qualified individuals.
Park Doo-seon, vice president of DSME, was appointed president and CEO of the shipbuilder at an annual general meeting Monday. He will serve a three-year term.
DSME, one of Korea's three leading shipbuilders, is considered a quasi-public company as its largest shareholder is the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB), which owns a 55.7 percent stake.
Yoon's team pointed out that Park was a college classmate of the president's younger brother, Moon Jae-ik, both entering the Korea Maritime & Ocean University in 1978.
Won Il-hee, a deputy spokesman for Yoon's transition team, denounced Park's appointment as "irrational and shameless" in a press briefing Thursday and called for the state auditor to look into his appointment.
"DSME pushed ahead with the unreasonable measure of electing new CEO Park Doo-seon, who is known to be a university classmate of the younger brother of President Moon Jae-in," said Won.
He said the appointment "goes beyond common sense and custom," and is probably an abuse of power that ignores the guidelines of the Financial Services Commission.
"Even though it superficially went through the board approval procedure of a private company, it is an irrational and shameless move that raises reasonable suspicion that there is actually someone behind the scenes who made the appointment," he said.
"DSME is a de facto pubic corporation with KDB holding more than half of its shares," said Won. It is "common sense" to appoint a new management that can work with the incoming administration, he added.
The transition team will ask the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) to review the validity of Park's appointment, he said.
Hours later, the Blue House responded it was "surprised that the transition committee has been eyeing" the position.
"The DSME CEO position is one that requires a management expert from the inside who can help the debt-ridden shipbuilder speedily normalize its operations amid a revival of the shipbuilding industry," said Shin Hye-hyun, Blue House deputy spokesperson, in a statement. "It is not a position for the incumbent government, nor the incoming one, to covet."
The president and his successor have clashed over the filling of plum positions at public institutions in the final weeks of Moon's five-year term.
Moon and Yoon appeared to make amends after their first meeting at the Blue House Monday, where they agreed that issues such as filling of positions will be discussed in lower-level consultations between their aides.
Yoon's team has protested Moon's appointment of a new Bank of Korea governor, while the Blue House argued that the candidate was agreed to by the transition team.
After joining DSME, Park worked in the company's financial accounting team and as a ship production manager. He was promoted to shipyard director in 2019.
Park personally escorted President Moon on a visit to Daewoo's Okpo shipyard in Geoje, South Gyeongsang, in January 2018.
The KDB failed to sell its shares in DSME to Hyundai Heavy Industries in January after the European Union's antitrust regulator vetoed a merger.
"It is not unusual for CEO Park, a former senior vice president and shipyard director who spent 36 years working at DMSE, to be appointed as the new CEO," a DMSE spokesperson said Thursday. "It does not go against customary practice because he is not a parachute appointment from the outside, but formally appointed through a general shareholders' meeting and the board of directors at the end of the term of the former CEO."
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]