Go to contents

Gov’t Officials Try to Be Close to President-Elect Lee

Posted December. 22, 2007 05:41,   


Many current high-ranking officials are trying to be close to Lee Myung-bak, the president-elect. Calls from those wanting to meet and make connections with Lee’s aides are flooding the Grand National Party office. These people think that their “political distance” from Lee will determine their “destiny.”

Former Government Official Afraid to Answer Phone Calls-

A former official at the Foreign Ministry who joined the GNP after the primary is afraid of answering calls because people who he used to work with call him incessantly to “have a meal sometime.” He is torn, because if he turns them down, they will think he is conceited, but if he does see them, he will be asked to do favors, making their friendship estranged. Those who want direct connections with Lee are trying to meet reporters in order to “gauge the mood” of the president-elect’s camp.

Networking, Networking!-

Those in the ministries of finance and economy, and industry and resources, whose rank is a director or higher, are reportedly very busy trying to have pull with those who graduated from the same school or are from the same hometown as Lee. It is reported that at one economy ministry meeting, a group of officials from the same college met and talked about Lee’s close aides who graduated from the same school with them. They shared information on what these aides are like and who are the “brains” of the president-elect.

One high-ranking official at the Financial Supervisory Commission and his wife had dinner with a banker and his wife because that banker graduated from the same university as Lee. An official at the Financial Supervisory Service, even though he is not a regular churchgoer, is trying to meet with those who went to the same school as the president-elect. Regarding these moves, some say, “Out of fear that their positions are being threatened, as they were elected or appointed in the current administration, they are trying to secure their seats by relying on their academic backgrounds.”

Competition to be Part of the Committee for Change of Government and Cheong Wa Dae-

High-ranking officials in the Ministry of Finance and Economy are carefully reading the promises made by Lee Myung-bak and studying his characteristics by collecting information about what he said in the media to come up with alternative policies or initiatives. There is allegedly fierce competition among the officials in the Ministry of Education about who will be sent off to help the committee for a change of government, because everyone who was involved in it got a promotion in the past.

In the Ministry of Education, people are predicting that those who worked outside the ministry would stand a better chance of working on the committee because the participatory government’s and Lee’s education platforms had many differences. Those working in the Seoul Metropolitan Government are excited because they think they will be offered a job at Cheong Wa Dae as they worked with Lee when he was the mayor of Seoul. Those who were deeply involved in projects like the Cheonggyecheon restoration project and the central bus-only lane system have even higher hopes of being selected.

Anxious Public Officials-

Ministers and vice-ministers, as well as first-grade officials, are reported to be feeling restless because their futures are unpredictable whenever there is a shift in government. Those in the Ministry of Construction are also feeling uneasy, because whenever Lee came up with construction-related promises as a candidate, such as the building of a grand canal and Yongsan National Park, the ministry has been against them. Moreover, Lee’s comment that the ministry should be merged with the Ministry of Environment made officials at the Ministry of Construction feel jittery.

A Ministry of Construction official said, “Already, some senior ministry officials are asking their subordinates to review the feasibility of the canal project with a positive perspective.” Another ministry official said, “There is nothing special about what we’re trying to do. Whenever there is a change in government, we try to assist the new government.”