Back To Top

[Editorial] Connections matter

Political favoritism prevails in public office

The Park Geun-hye administration indulges in favoritism in appointments to public office as much as previous administrations. The latest noise comes from the National Pension Service.

Kang Myun-wook, former CEO of Meritz Asset Management Co, took over this week as chief investment officer of the NPS. He will be in charge of investing the 510 trillion won ($410 billion) fund managed by the country’s biggest investor.

Kang’s appointment drew skepticism from the financial industry, with some pointing out that he spent more of his career in marketing than investment, and his performance in his most recent former job at Meritz was hardly impressive.

Critics noted that Kang went to the same high school and university as Ahn Jong-beom, the powerful senior presidential secretary for economic affairs. They said personal connections was key factor when the NPS chose Kang over a rival candidate, who some say was more qualified than Kang, but who lacked political connections.

Early this month, senior prosecutor Choi Yoon-soo was tapped as the second deputy director of the National Intelligence Service. In view of Choi’s career, the appointment stoked speculations of political favoritism, one of which pointed to the fact that he was the college classmate of Woo Byung-woo, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs.

The appointment in July of another former senior prosecutor, Lee Wan-soo as secretary-general of the Board of Audit and Inspection also left many in disbelief as the post used to go to career BAI officials.

It turned out that Lee was a classmate of Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn while they were undergoing legal training and went to the same high school as former Deputy Prime Minister Choi Kyung-hwan, a close confidant of Park.

Choi had already drawn attention when posts like the powerful chief of the National Tax Service and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff went to his high school alumni.

It is needless to say that Park is primarily to blame for the rampant political favoritism among her top aides and associates.
catch table
Korea Herald daum