Kim Jeong-hoon, who withdrew his candidacy for science minister on March 4 amid controversy over his dual nationality, expressed bitterness about nationalism in Korea in an opinion piece in the Washington Post.
In a March 31 article entitled “Old prejudices in a new world,” he said the Korean political and business environment would impede an “outsider” like him from carrying out the mission of the ministry.
“Change-resistant forces in the political and bureaucratic circles and certain business spheres naturally raised objections to my candidacy, mostly on the basis of my nationality and presumed lack of allegiance,” he said in the article.
He also expressed a bitter grudge over “a vitriolic response I can only liken to a witch hunt which took off on the internet and in some mainstream media outlets.”
“Some, for example, theorized that I was a spy. My wife was accused of being associated with a brothel.”
He said that he was proud to accept his position on the external advisory board of the Central Intelligence Agency, but that it “turned out to be grist for the rumor mill after my nomination to lead South Korea’s new ministry.”
He advised Korea to embrace diverse nationalities.
“In the 21st century, the most successful countries will be those that can move beyond the old prejudices concerning nationality.”
But, if a foreign expert with dual citizenship who played a role in the intelligence agency of his country was nominated as a secretary in charge of science and high technologies, it is doubtful that the U.S. Congress would welcome him quietly.
If he was sincerely willing to “sacrifice himself” for his home country, it would have been proper for him to challenge the vitriolic allegations against him and his wife in confirmation hearings.
By Chun Sung-woo (email@example.com