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Weary ‘kiddos’ at Cheong Wa Dae

Posted October. 20, 2014 04:52,   


The late former President Roh Moo-hyun called the night-duty room of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae during his state visit to the U.S. in May 2003. It was around 1:00 a.m. in Korean local time. One personnel on the night duty was sleeping in bed and the other was in the bathroom. As no one took the phone at the night-duty room, President Roh called the situation room of Cheong Wa Dae. Still, nobody answered. President Roh, who had been curious about the progress of walkout by unionized truck drivers, got quite upset.

Because of this, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae performed a fact-finding investigation and the two personnel who were on the night duty at that night were disciplined for laxity of discipline. Afterwards, Cheong Wa Dae got rid of one of the two beds in the night-duty room so that one out of two night-shifters cannot sleep. Working at the presidential office may seem splendid from the outside. But the work intensity of the presidential secretaries or administrative officials is quite strong, far ahead of officials in the other ministries. Complaints of Cheong Wa Dae officials, such as “I go to work seeing stars and go home seeing a moon,” is not a laughing matter. Con artists, who try to fool people by pretending they have a connection with Cheong Wa Dae, commonly mention the title of "director of a bureau" but few people know that there is no such position in the presidential official.

In the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, personnel hired from the presidential campaign camp and original public servants dispatched from other ministries are working together, creating a weird combination. In the beginning of administration, public servants in various ministries want and voluntarily apply to work at Cheong Wa Dae. But at the end of a president’s term, relegated public servants are sent to work there At every administration, Cheong Wa Dae officials repeatedly are intoxicated by the sweet power and later fall off the cliff.

Saenuri Rep. Yoo Seung-min, who was once known as pro-Park (pro Park Geun-hye) lawmaker, made a sarcastic comment over Cheong Wa Dae officials by calling them “Cheong Wa Dae kiddos” during the parliamentary inspection. In his dialect of South Gyeongsang Province, what Rep. Yoo meant was "a small child who is not a very young baby." Yoo’s harsh comment targeted unskillful job by Cheong Wa Dae and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade over the cancellation of the presidential speech during President Park Geun-hye’s visit to the U.S. But the nuance does not feel pleasant. After being criticized as "kiddos" as a whole, how would Cheong Wa Dae officials feel? Rep. Yoo may have felt better after saying it, but he may have forgotten that too harsh expressions can lose their own effectiveness or seriousness.