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Is using a fake address the norm for high-ranking officials?

Is using a fake address the norm for high-ranking officials?

Posted March. 04, 2015 07:16,   


Many nominees for prime minister and minister have failed to pass confirmation hearings due to sham addresses since the adoption of a confirmation hearing for a prime minister nominee in 2000 and for a minister nominee in 2005. In 2002, prime minister nominees Jang Sang and Jang Dae-hwan could not pass the confirmation hearing, and other nominees including Lee Hun-jai, deputy prime minister nominee, Shin Jae-min, culture, sports and tourism minister nominee, Lee Dong-heup, constitutional court chief justice nominee, and Kim Byeong-gwan, defense minister nominee, turned out to have allegedly used a fake address for them or their spouse. However, Prime Minister Chung Un-chan, Chief Justice Min Il-young, Justice Minister Lee Gui-nam, and Labor Minister Yim Tae-hee passed confirmation hearings despite using a fake address.

Then, what makes the difference? The public generally are not tolerant about using sham addresses for speculative real estate investments or buying a new apartment, while tolerating fake addresses for education purposes, which is partly due to Koreans’ zeal for education. Technically, using fake addresses are illegal at all and one may face up to three years in prison or up to 10 million won (9,110 U.S. dollars) in fine. What made people think it acceptable to use a fake address for one’s child’s education?

The criteria must have been made from former President Lee Myung-bak. President Lee apologized for using fake addresses five times for his three children’s education when he was running for president, and voters chose him as a president. When Lee Gyu-yong, environment minister nominee, admitted using a fake address in 2007, the then opposition Grand National Party did not take issue with this probably because of its presidential candidate. Politicians interpret the use of a fake address to their party’s interest.

In the run-up to the confirmation hearings for minister nominees, it turned out that Yoo Il-ho, land, infrastructure and transport minister nominee, Yoo Gi-joon, maritime affairs and fisheries minister nominee, used a sham address for their child’s education and Hong Yong-pyo, unification minister nominee, for his wife’s apartment purchase. If the implicit standard applies, Hong who changed his address for a speculative purpose must step down. However, he seems that he would be fine if he admits the change and makes an apology for it. Under the Park Geun-hye administration, Security and Public Administration Minister Jeong Jong-seop who oversees the Citizen Registration Act also used a false address intentionally. Some sarcastically say that using a fake address is a required subject for high-level officials.