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[Newsmaker] Moon orders probe into alleged corruption by Cheong Wa Dae secretary

President Moon Jae-in in a file photo (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in in a file photo (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in instructed Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday to look immediately and thoroughly into allegations of corruption involving his secretary for culture.

The move came after a news report that a local company established in 2004 by the secretary, Jun Hyo-gwan, won a dozen contracts, worth a total of 5.1 billion won ($4.5 million), with the Seoul metropolitan government on culture-related projects while he was serving as a senior official in charge of innovation planning affairs at City Hall from 2014-2018.

Jun, formerly secretary general of Arts Council Korea, was installed in the Cheong Wa Dae post in March.

The president also ordered a probe into a separate case of the allegation that Kim Woo-nam, head of the Korea Racing Authority (KRA), verbally abused a KRA employee for refusing to hire one of his former National Assembly aides. Kim served three terms as a lawmaker.

KRA, which is tasked with promoting the country's horse industry, is under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Moon ordered Kim Jin-kook, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs and justice to "thoroughly confirm" related facts and "take resolute measures," according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok.

It was quite unusual for Moon's office to be so quick in making public his direct message on such a media-reported suspicion tied with his aide.

The instruction is viewed as part of Moon's efforts to tighten discipline among public officials during the remainder of his tenure, which ends in May 2022.

The ruling Democratic Party was overwhelmingly defeated in the April 7 Seoul and Busan mayoral by-elections with Moon's approval ratings in marked decline. Many voters were upset about what they regard as an "unfair and hypocritical" attitude of the ruling bloc, observers say. (Yonhap)