Resignation report untrue, the Blue House insists

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Resignation report untrue, the Blue House insists

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Kim Hyun-chong

The Blue House denied Friday a media report that Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Hyun-chong had tendered his resignation.

“The report said he has expressed his intention to step down, but that is not true,” a presidential official said. “I was told Kim has no intention to run in the general election.”

The Chosun Ilbo reported Thursday that Kim had recently tendered his resignation to run in the April general election.

“In addition to the general election bid, Kim’s wish to resign is also linked to the recent power struggle inside the National Security Office of the Blue House,” a source close to the administration said, according to the Chosun Ilbo.

Kim, a trade expert and a lawyer, joined the Moon Jae-in Blue House as the deputy head of the National Security Office in February 2019, after serving as the trade minister since July 2017.

He has been developing security policy and was behind the Moon administration’s decision last year to end a military information-sharing pact with Japan to counter Tokyo’s export restrictions. The government chose at the last minute not to allow the pact to lapse.

Kim prepared a bid to run in the 2016 general election to represent Incheon, but civic groups protested his leading of free trade pact negotiations with the United States during the Roh Moo-hyun administration.

The Blue House official said Friday that he checked with Kim before denying the report.

“Kim has a strong belief that he has a role in the Blue House,” the official said. The official refused to say whether Kim had been offered a candidacy by a political party.

According to media reports, Kim was in disagreement with Choi Jong-kun, presidential secretary for peace planning. Choi has been putting focus on inter-Korean relations, but Kim’s priority is the Korea-U.S. alliance.

Before joining the Blue House in July 2017, Choi was a professor of political science and international relations at Yonsei University. He is close to Moon Chung-in, special adviser for unification, diplomacy and national security affairs for the president.

Amid reports of discord between Choi and Kim, Choi posted a message on his Facebook on Wednesday.

“After taking a leave from the academic post and becoming a presidential secretary, my existence should have been completely concealed,” Choi wrote.

Choi wrote that he had reflected on how hard he had worked to realize peace. “I also seriously contemplate about dignity, sense of shame and respect for human beings,” he wrote.

Despite Choi’s ambiguous message, it remains to be seen whether the top security aides for Moon have mended fences.

Kim previously clashed with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha. When Kang attended a National Assembly hearing in September, she admitted that she had a fight with Kim in April.

After Kang confirmed the disagreement, Kim posted a public apology on Twitter.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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