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Government Influence-Peddling Claimed

Posted August. 12, 2006 10:21,   


“I was dismissed right away after an investigation because (Cheong Wa Dae) wanted to demonstrate that if you do not obey in the pubic sector, you are dead,” Yoo Jin-ryong, 50, former vice minister of culture and tourism, said Friday regarding Cheong Wa Dae’s probe into the discipline in officialdom.

“When Lee Baek-mahn, senior presidential secretary for public information, told me that he would punish the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MOCT) over the controversy of the Korea Newspaper Circulation Service (KNCS), I told him, ‘You should not use the sword like that. Power is the sword. Do you think you can unsheathe the sword and cut it off? If you want to punish someone, you’d better punish the ruling Uri-Party lawmakers who agreed to the matching fund of the KNCS first’,” Yoo said.

“I advised him that it would become a trouble one day and it’s absurd. In addition, I told me that it would be harmful for the president,” he added explaining the background of the request over hiring the vice president of Arirang TV.

“I was investigated by a Cheong Wa Dae team for public officials’ possible corruption after I had turned down the offers,” Yoo said, refuting Cheong Wa Dae’s claim that he was fired because of negligence of duty.

“The prosecution investigators dispatched from the presidential office for civil affairs came to see me and said they would conduct an investigation because they received a request from the presidential office for public information urging an investigation into the discipline among civil servants,” Yoo said.

“The investigation was focused on the background of rejecting the request for personnel affairs. Maybe the investigator was uncomfortable to get the record of questioning in my office. He asked me to fill in the record and send it to him. So I sent it to the investigator through e-mail and I have a copy of it,” he explains with regard to why he had to write the record.

However, an official of the presidential secretary for public information refuted this claim, saying, “The investigation on Yoo was focused on his negligence of duty and there was no question regarding personnel matters.

“It was a legitimate consultation for (personnel) affairs. Therefore, Lee’s phone call to Yoo itself shouldn’t be an issue,” retorted an official of Cheong Wa Dae regarding influence-peddling for personnel management by the presidential office for public information.

“In regard to the media reports, there was an internal investigation. But nothing in particular was found,” said Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Jung Tae-ho.

Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly called for a parliamentary probe over the administration’s illegitimate influence for personnel management. It is expected to trigger political disputes in a near future.

“This matter will be thoroughly examined during this month’s National Assembly’s Culture and Tourism Committee and next month’s parliamentary audit session. If it requires a further investigation, we will call for a parliamentary inquiry to find out the degree of the government’s corruption in personnel management,” GNP spokesman Yoo Ki-june said.

yyc11@donga.com susanna@donga.com