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Cheong Wa Dae Takes Late Action After Investigation

Posted February. 21, 2005 22:53,   


There is a controversy brewing over the fact that Cheong Wa Dae decided to investigate the past record of Vice Minister of National Defense Yoo Hyo-il, who worked as a battalion commander in the 62nd Regiment of the 20th Division, a repression unit, during the May 18 Democratic Movement in 1980.

Concerning the fact that some civic groups called Vice Minister Yoo’s past record into question and requested that Cheong Wa Dae take personnel measures, Presidential Secretary of Personnel Affairs Kim Wan-ki said on February 21 that “the government’s position is to take necessary measures after an investigation into detailed and specific work, since his past work is not clearly revealed.”

Senior Presidential Secretary Kim said in a talk that day that “we will take measures after investigating his field work and listening to opinions of related organizations since there could be instances where they participated in killing citizens directly during the process of implementing their duties, and a corps that guarded only the outer wall.”

In addition, it has been known that Defense Minister Yoon Gwang-woong took action stipulating that Vice Minister Yoo, who is also chief of an investigative committee of the Ministry of National Defense, will not get involved in inquiring into the past related to the May 18 Democratic Movement.

However, Vice Minister Yoo’s past was already known through newspapers. For example, Dong-a Ilbo reported a profile describing him as “a member of Hana Club of the Korea Military Academy, a private organization under the Fifth Republic, and a commander of the repression army during the May 18 Democratic Movement while he was lieutenant colonel,” when he was appointed vice minister of National Defense on August 27 of last year. Accordingly, some pointed out that it is not quite satisfactory that Cheong Wa Dae is now inquiring into the actual state of this issue due to the demands of civil society after six months.

Senior Presidential Secretary Kim explained this, saying, “According to the results of his past related record, and right and wrongdoings, Vice Minister Yoo was dispatched to Gwangjoo, but there was no outstanding work, such as firing. It was verified in an investigation record of the prosecution that he had been free from suspicion.”

Senior Presidential Secretary Kim also acknowledged that Cheong Wa Dae’s personnel verification system is poor, saying, “Neither the secretary to the president for Personnel Affairs nor the secretary to the president for Civil Affairs grasped whether or not Vice Minister Yoo had this kind of record during the cabinet reshuffle in August of last year.

Jung-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com