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Journalist-turned-lawmaker named new chief of staff

Rep. Chung Jin-suk viewed as being more moderate within ruling party

By Kim Arin

Published : April 22, 2024 - 15:08

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Rep. Chung Jin-suk is tapped by President Yoon Suk Yeol as his new chief of staff on Monday. (Yonhap) Rep. Chung Jin-suk is tapped by President Yoon Suk Yeol as his new chief of staff on Monday. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol’s new chief of staff, Rep. Chung Jin-suk, is a former journalist from a family with a political legacy.

His appointment as presidential chief of staff follows his defeat in the April 10 election for the National Assembly against the rival Democratic Party of Korea candidate and former lawmaker Park Soo-hyun.

Chung is the president’s third chief of staff and the first with experience in the Assembly. His two predecessors, Lee Kwan-sup and Kim Dae-ki, were both bureaucrats and Cabinet members.

Born and raised in Gongju, South Chungcheong Province, where he served as a lawmaker for five terms, Chung is a political heavyweight within the ruling People Power Party, which he led as interim chair in 2022.

A longtime lawmaker in the swing city of Gongju, he has a reputation for being more moderate than his ruling party colleagues. He was recruited into politics by Kim Jong-pil, who was prime minister under both conservative and liberal administrations and first set foot in the Assembly with a third party in 2000.

Chung served as deputy speaker in the 21st National Assembly, which was formed in the previous 2020 general election. He was also previously senior secretary for political affairs for former conservative President Lee Myung-bak.

Before entering politics, he was a journalist for the local daily Hankook Ilbo, known for its moderate liberal angle.

He is a second-generation politician whose late father, Chung Suk-mo, was a six-term lawmaker and interior minister in the administration of Chun Doo-hwan, who was president from 1980 to 1988.

In August last year, Chung Jin-suk was sentenced to six months in jail for defaming the late former President Roh Moo-hyun. His appeal is currently underway.

Roh’s family sued the lawmaker for stating in a social media post that the former president took his life as a criminal investigation was launched into allegations his wife and former first lady Kwon Yang-sook received bribes.

As the investigation closed with Roh’s suicide, the bribery allegations could not be proven.