The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy continued its attack on ministerial nominees Tuesday, concentrating the fire on Public Administration Minister nominee Jeong Jong-seop.
Citing various wrongdoings allegedly committed by Jeong, NPAD lawmakers pressed him and called for his withdrawal.
“Jeong Jong-seop is a department store of corruption. (He) is not fit to be the security and public administration minister,” said Rep. Jung Cheong-rae.
Allegations against Jeong include real estate speculation, tax evasion and irregularities during his military service. Jeong undertook part of his doctorate studies and worked as a part-time lecturer while serving as a judiciary officer in the military between 1985 and 1989.
In 1992, Jeong purchased an apartment in southern Seoul and another in the same area five years later. Jeong lived in neither property, but their value increased by about 2 billion won ($1.98 million), fueling the allegations of real estate speculation.
Jeong has also been shown to have falsely changed his registered address in 1991.
The security minister nominee is also accused of evading taxes on the fees he received for lectures given outside his post at Seoul National University. He also admitted to neglecting to report payments he received from the Institute for National Security Strategy to the tax authorities.
Jeong, for his part, apologized for his actions but denied any wrongdoing.
“I have never in my life engaged in (real estate) speculation,” Jeong said, while admitting that he owns two properties in the affluent southern Seoul area.
Jeong also apologized for changing his address in 1991, and said that no military regulations were violated while he was working as a part-time lecturer during his service.
Meanwhile, National Intelligence Service chief nominee Lee Byung-ki was the main target of NPAD’s attacks at Monday’s confirmation hearings. The two main parties are to adopt a report on the proceedings of his hearing on Wednesday.
Under the Personnel Hearing Act, the parliamentary confirmation hearing committee must complete the hearing within 20 days of receiving the government’s request, and then adopt a report on the nominee. However, if the committee fails to reach an agreement, the president reserves the right to push the appointment through.
Along with Jeong, labor minister nominee Lee Ki-kweon and gender equality minister nominee Kim Hee-jung took to the hot seat on Tuesday. Kim is a two-term lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, whose hearing was focused for the most part on policy issues aided by the comparative lack of allegations against her.
Lee Ki-kweon, the former vice labor minister, came under fire for his views regarding the controversial Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union. The teachers’ union was recently stripped of legal status by a local administrative court.
According to NPAD Rep. Eun Soo-mi, Lee’s finding that the union was in violation of labor regulations in 2010 provided the foundations for the recent developments. At the time, Lee was serving as the chief of the labor committee for Seoul.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)