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Yang’s right to be forgotten

Posted May. 17, 2017 07:24,   

Updated May. 17, 2017 07:31


“I am so grateful for him. He was a warrior who safeguarded President Roh Moo-hyun and his administration. He was a person who was most criticized by conservative media outlets following President Roh,” Moon Jae-in introduced Yang Jeong-cheol, the author of “Roh Moo-hyun’s People and Lee Myung-bak’s People,” at the book publishing event in January 2012. “He made me write a book and pushed me towards politics. My book ‘Destiny’ became a bestseller and I got popular politically,” Moon said, adding that he owes much to Yang.

No one was as controversial as Yang when President Roh was in office. The former reporter of the newspaper of the National Union of Media Workers took the lead in a war against the media in his capacity as a secretary to the president for public relations. He led the closure of the pressroom in the presidential office in the name of advancing the system for media support during the latter part of the presidential term. Despite his denial, he made the legendary comment to former vice minister Yoo Jin-ryong who refused to accept his request to do him a favor – “Sue me, then.” The Korea News Editors’ Association, which published a white paper on media oppression in 2008, called him one of the five people who shuttered the pressroom.

After former President Roh died in 2009, Yang served as the first secretary-general of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation. While taking the lead in helping Moon Jae-in’s camp in the 2012 presidential election, he became Moon’s confidant. He is on a first name basis with President Moon. Late Monday night, he declared he would retire on his Facebook page, saying, “Let me have the right to be forgotten.” He said he would stay in New Zealand for a while and would not be a burden for the Moon administration.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Valerie Jarrett, his confidant, his senior advisor and discussed key decisions with him for eight years. President Donald Trump gave Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, a senior advisor position, making his presence official. Yang’s right to be forgotten should be valid throughout the president’s five-year term. Should his influence behind the scenes are made known, it would be a tragedy for both Yang and the Moon administration.