Go to contents

Roh’s Inappropriate Direction and Intervention

Posted June. 01, 2005 06:47,   


It was officially confirmed on May 31 that the Southwestern Coastal Area Development Project, also known as Cheong Wa Dae’s base for supporting the Haengdam Island Development Project, was actually initiated by former presidential personnel affairs secretary Jeong Chan-yong, following President Roh Moo-hyun’s orders in the middle of 2003.

During the project, Jeong, though lacking expertise in land development, depended primarily on civilians, including Moon Dong-joo, professor at Seoul National University, and Kim Jae-bok, president of the Haengdam Island Development Co., instead of consulting with the official government bodies. This eventually led to Cheong Wa Dae’s excessive support of the Haengdam Island Development Project, which turned out to be an inappropriate way of handling the project.

Furthermore, during the press meeting at Cheong Wa Dae on May 25, which was held to explain the presidential office’s intervention in the project, Jeong reportedly received from the office of the president a memo which carried the president’s intention of apologizing if there was inappropriateness regarding the promotion of the project. As a result, this memo triggered suspicion of the president’s intervention in handling this scandal.

In this regard, politicians from both the ruling and opposition parties criticized Cheong Wa Dae for leaving the responsibility of the national project solely to the judgment of civilian non-specialists and also the government offices for failing to monitor this immature conduct. They also pointed out that the administration is being run chaotically, suggesting the necessity of new aides at Cheong Wa Dae. The suggestion presently is drawing significant attention.

“In the middle of 2003, President Roh asked me to take charge of the project, calling the development of the southwestern area as the core of the land development. Initially, I refused the president’s request since I was too busy handling personnel affairs. But, the president even called me to his residence and asked me again to take charge of the project. So I had to accept,” according to Jeong on May 31. Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kim Man-soo said that the president’s intention was to enquire Jeong about his idea to develop the southwestern coastal area, since Jeong came from the area. “It is possible that Jeong might have understood the president’s inquiry as an order,” the spokesman added.

Young-ChanYoon Jung-Hun Kim yyc11@donga.com jnghn@donga.com