Go to contents

Government’s Hiring Rules Questioned

Posted August. 26, 2006 03:22,   


It was confirmed on August 25 that Cheong Wa Dae appointed Lee Jae-yong, the president of the National Health Insurance Corporation (NHIC), even after it was revealed in the process of selection confirmation that he evaded income tax and made defaults on health insurance payments.

Lee Byeong-wan, presidential chief of staff, said in the Steering Committee of National Assembly meeting, said, “It was already revealed in the process of examining the selection but judged acceptable by the standards.”

GNP lawmaker Jeon Jae-hui questioned Lee’s appointment on August 24, saying, “Lee evaded income tax as he did not register his leasing business, although he has owned a building worth 227 million won in Munhwa-dong, Daegu since 1988. In addition, he defaulted on health insurance payments.”

The Office of the Chief Secretary to the President for National Policy explained on August 25, “Lee’s evasion of income tax is not a drawback by the standards. We considered the fact that it was for his mother-in-law’s livelihood. And his defaults on health insurance payments were dismissed as too small.”

To sum up, Cheong Wa Dae’s position is that there were issues but not serious enough to make Lee fall off the appointment list. Some question what Cheong Wa Dae’s standards for personnel appointment were.

A source in Cheong Wa Dae responded, “I don’t know what they were specifically. As far as I know, it was considered the amount of the lease income tax evaded was very small and that it was for his mother-in-law’s livelihood.” It is not even clear whether there are standards.

Many point out that the standards, if any, seem too arbitrary. They think Cheong Wa Dae is too generous about people close to President Roh while being relatively too strict about others.

An example is Yoo Jin-ryong, former vice minister of Culture & Tourism, who was replaced at the beginning of this month. Cheong Wa Dae removed Yoo, questioning his inappropriate words and action and blaming him for the failed management of the Korea Newspaper Circulation Service. However, it is turning out that Yoo is not responsible for the issue of the newspaper distribution agency.

In the Steering Committee of the National Assembly meeting, even ruling party lawmakers criticized Cheong Wa Dae’s arbitrary standards for personnel selection.

Uri Party lawmaker Kim Hyeon-mi said, “The NHIC is a public institute, and public good should be a standard in selecting the head. But the people wouldn’t think Lee’s appointment was for public good if he did not make health insurance payments.”

Lee explained, “My mother-in-law leased the building from July, 2004, but there was not much income since the lease was not continuous due to business depression. It is true that I didn’t register my lease business for I was preparing for the May 31 local elections, but I turned in a business registration form to a revenue office on June 17.”

jyw11@donga.com tesomiom@donga.com