President Park Geun-hye will decide whether to push for the appointment of Moon Chang-keuk as prime minister after her tour of central Asian nations, the presidential office said Wednesday.
“(The president) will concentrate on important economic and diplomatic issues during the tour, and decide (whether to approve) the bill of approval after analyzing various issues after her return to the country,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Min Kyung-wook said.
Despite Cheong Wa Dae’s reasoning, the move has been interpreted by some as Cheong Wa Dae backing down in light of expanding controversy and resistance, even from within the ruling Saenuri Party.
Moon, a former journalist, has been accused of having pro-Japanese historical views demonstrated by his comments regarding Japan’s colonization of Korea and the Dokdo Islets.
While the presidential office revealed a change in position on the nominee, conservatives ratcheted up pressure on Moon.
Rep. Suh Chung-won took a step further by openly calling for Moon to withdraw his name and raising questions about Cheong Wa Dae’s personnel selection system.
“For the party and the people and the current administration (Moon) should make the choice that does not burden everyone,” Suh said. “I think that the chief of staff being in charge of personnel management is a matter for discussion.”
At present, Kim Ki-choon, presidential chief of staff, is in charge of the personnel management committee responsible for screening candidates for high-level posts.
Suh added that under the system the chief of staff is blamed for any mishaps in personnel selection, which in turn directly affects the president.
While Suh, a seven-term lawmaker with close ties to the president and eyes on the Saenuri Party chairmanship, is focused on systemic problems, opposition parties are honing in on the chief of staff.
“Frankly, (the party) wants to call for a hearing on Kim Ki-choon, not Moon,” New Politics Alliance for Democracy spokesman Geum Tae-seop said. He added that the selection of Moon and other figures tapped for high-level posts was “embarrassing.”
“Kim needs to clearly reveal and take responsibility for how such people were nominated, how the problems the media easily discovered were undetected, and whether there were unfair influences involved,” he said.
Since taking office as the chief of staff, Kim has been pointed to as being the most influential figure in the Park Geun-hye administration. His ties to the president goes back to the days of her father late President Park Chung-hee, and Kim is also a member of the so-called “group of seven,” referring to seven individuals with the closest ties to the president.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)