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Ruling Camp Torn Over Nat`l Police Chief Nominee

Posted January. 22, 2009 08:39,   


The ruling camp is split over the fate of Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency Chief Kim Seok-ki in the wake of the bloody clash between police and protesters that killed six people.

The presidential office will reportedly settle the issue as soon as possible after an investigation and focus on prevention of a recurrence.

A top presidential aide said yesterday, “The criminal investigation will produce results sooner or later. Based on the results, the government will study various measures.”

Controversy is brewing, however, over the fate of Seoul police chief Kim, whom President Lee Myung-bak has nominated to take over the National Police Agency.

Those opposed to Kim within the presidential office say his dismissal is inevitable for an early settlement, while others recommend waiting until the probe results come out.

Everyone seems to agree, however, that Kim’s nomination must be withdrawn if he is found responsible for the incident.

The dominant opinion of the ruling Grand National Party is that the investigation should precede holding implicated officials responsible, but certain party members say someone needs to step down to take responsibility.

“It’s impossible to save both Public Administration and Security Minister Won Sei-hoon and Kim,” one party official said. “To resolve this mess, Kim must step down.”

To maintain momentum for the government reshuffle, National Intelligence Service Director-designate Won should be protected but to assuage public outrage, Kim must go regardless of whether the incident was his fault, he added.

A ranking party lawmaker hit back by saying, “If the government reprimands officials regardless of the probe results, no public official will take up a difficult task. If the investigation finds no fault with police, nobody should be dismissed.”

koh@donga.com mhpark@donga.com