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[Editorial] Flaws in the Verification Process of Deputy Prime Minister for Education and Human Resources Development

[Editorial] Flaws in the Verification Process of Deputy Prime Minister for Education and Human Resources Development

Posted January. 07, 2005 23:03,   


Controversies are arising over the morality of new deputy prime minister appointee Lee Ki-jun. Education and citizen groups, as well as the three parties, are pressuring him to step down. It is regrettable that a leader in charge of education and human resources─matters that involve the future of the nation─has fallen into an ethical controversy upon his appointment.

There are multiple suspicions involving Lee Ki-jun. This is not just about the overusing of expedience funds, holding multiple posts, indiscreet use of corporate credit cards, and problems arising from his time as president of Seoul National University. Suspicions on his son’s college admission have risen to a new controversial issue yesterday, following those related to his nationality, military service and real estate. Certain sources are stating that his son entered college as an overseas Korean when he actually was not eligible. Lee Ki-jun’s explanation that he did not know his son had forfeited Korean citizenship until he saw the family register is only fueling more speculations on his sincerity.

So far, Cheong Wa Dae has emphasized “System Personnel” every time there has been an appointment of top officials. It was a gesture that meant it had benchmarked the White House method of separating recommendation and verification, to establish a fair and clear personnel system fit to our circumstances. Cheong Wa Dae asserted that Lee Ki-jun had passed through this thorough verification process as well. Only this time, the foremost standard in the appointment of this position was the university reform ability, considering the fact that Lee Ki-jun was once forced to step out of his seat as president of Seoul National University due to an ethical flaw.

However, the fact that the verification process was not able to pick out the potentially controversial aspects beforehand is in itself a failure. If he has given people doubts on his qualifications from the very beginning of his term, how could he expect his education reforms plans to find any support? Cheong Wa Dae’s said “We only investigated the person in question and his spouse; we did not consider the son,” but this only sounds like a lame excuse.

The actions and image of one minister exerts a huge influence on a nation and its people. The work cannot be done by just anyone; the position should not be given to just anyone. This is even more so if it is the case of deputy prime minister for Education, the one who is given the duty of leading several hundred thousands of students and teachers. The nation will keep a close eye on this matter.