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What do you think of this person as PM candidate?

Posted June. 27, 2014 01:00,   


When former Prime Minister nominee Moon Chang-keuk held a press conference to withdraw his nomination on Tuesday, this writer had lunch with retired veteran journalists, who used to work with the political desk for much of their careers. The event was held to congratulate one of the two on his retirement, and key topic of our conversation was Moon. When this writer asked “What kind of person nominee Moon is” to the retiring senior journalist, who had had relationship with Moon since being a rookie reporter for the political desk, he replied, “He is a man of conviction and honesty,” adding the following:

“While seeing Moon making apology after KBS carried a (edited) video clip on his lecture, I thought that he was not like him of ordinary times. I wondered if the presidential office asked him to do so. I also could hardly understand why he unexpectedly compared the late former President Kim Dae-jung’s letters during his term in prison and Moon’s view of religion when giving the press conference to announce his withdrawal of nomination. His family originally hailed from North Korea before the Korean War, and he disliked Kim Dae-jung from his inherent distinct while serving as reporter for the political desk. When Kwanhun Club, an organization of veteran journalists, once interviewed Kim Dae-jung through invitation, he sharply attacked Kim from ideological perspective and thus made the latter perplexed and embarrassed. Soon after learning that the presidential office nominated Moon, the opposition parties would have felt that the Park Geun-hye administration proclaimed heads-on ideological battle with them. I don’t know if the president named him with such intention.”

Who would have recommended Moon as Prime Minister nominee?

“Initially, I thought that since ‘Seven People’s Group,’ a presidential advisory group of senior veterans, included a lower classman from the high school Moon graduated, and he might have done it, but confirmed he did not. Former lawmaker Kim Yong-kap, a member of the group, also said ‘None of us recommended him.’ It was truly ‘picking of candidate out of blue.’”

There are only countless rumors regarding Moon’s relationship with Presidential Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon, and group of unofficial aides.

“When Moon became a member of the prosecutor-general nomination committee last time, I thought that it was at Kim’s recommendation. Since they both worked at the Park Chung-hee Memorial Committee, they should know well each other.”

Then our dialogue naturally led to concern over the personnel management system. Here is what another journalist had to say.

“In the past, there was an unofficial process of gathering opinion, including officials from the National Intelligence Service and presidential aides widely inquiring reputation of candidates, and informed such opinion to the chief executive. Even Kim Hyun-chul, former President Kim Young-sam’s son who would abuse power and even earned the nickname ‘small president’, would meet with leaders from various walks of life after elections and conveyed people’s sentiment to the president. Then, now we can hardly know what is happening at the presidential office or if anything is happening at all.”

Then, what kind of person would be appropriate as next prime minister. Both of the journalists concurred that “Given the situation, it should be someone hailing from the political circle. However, the premise is that someone who has his or her own political agenda would be inappropriate.”

“The Prime Minister is not a post who can build up political assets by confronting the president. If this happens, it will bring the country into chaotic situation and add to uncertainty in state administration. Giving consideration to various issues, I think former lawmaker Chough Soon-hyung may be appropriate. He is a retired veteran politician, and hails from the opposition camp. More than anything he has no private political agenda and hence will not engage in his own politics. Since he is nicknamed “Mr. Criticism,” he will say critical things to ministers and politicians and seek to tightly establish order. He would not be a person who would go unruly even when making critical suggestions to the president.”

At this point of our conversation, this writer came to recall what Kim Jong-in, former chairman of the people’s happiness committee of the Saenuri Party, lightly remarked when I interviewed him several days ago. “President Park will never dial someone, unless she herself feels that she need to.” Now is time when President Park feels she needs help. It is time for the president to dial many different people and ask for help, rather than trying to protect her Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon.

After lunch, I asked about the former lawmaker “Chough Soon-hyung" as a potential candidate to opinion leaders, including politicians from the ruling and opposition parties and professors. Most were favorable to him, saying “We would welcome him.” This writer has the same view. For your information, I only have very limited relationship with Chough through my one and only interview with the former lawmaker.”