Of the seven minister nominees for the phase 2 Cabinet of the Moon Jae-in administration, Land, Infrastructure and Transportation Minister nominee Choi Jeong-ho, and Science and ICT Minister nominee Cho Dong-ho have had their nominations cancelled. This brings the total number of minister and vice minister nominees who have been forced to quit in the course of confirmation hearings since the inauguration of the Moon administration to eight. Notably, Cho is the first nominee whose nomination has been withdrawn by President Moon among all the nominees thus far.
As for the reason for President Moon’s withdrawal of Cho’s nomination, the presidential office cited Cho’s participation in a non-performing overseas academic conference, saying that Cho lied during the candidate prescreening process. It means that the presidential office only reviewed candidates’ achievements and public reputation and failed to check facts. Then, we naturally wonder why the presidential secretary for civil affairs office and the presidential office for personnel affairs office exist.
A bigger problem is the presidential office’s excuse that it had reviewed in the course of the prescreening all other suspicions that were raised against nominees Cho and Choi. Nominee Cho was criticized for his acquisition of farm land through registration of fake residential address and his son’s lavish overseas study, while nominee Choi was blasted for ownership of multiple homes and deceitful transfer of wealth to daughter to reduce tax payment. If the presidential office nominated the two candidates even though it had known all these problems, it either has disregarded people’s expectations, or has revealed a huge loophole in its personnel screening system.
Apart from the two nominees whose nominations have been withdrawn, Unification Minister nominee Kim Yeon-chul has been accused of having excessively used abusive languages and being highly biased ideologically, while all the nominees were criticized for real estate speculation and registration of fake residential addresses in the course of confirmation hearings. The fact that these people despite failing to meet the minimum requirements for top civil servants have been nominated suggests that the presidential office’s standard of candidate qualifications and its screening method are fundamentally flawed. President Moon should sack officials responsible for the fiasco including presidential secretary for personnel affairs Cho Hyun-ok, and presidential secretary for civil affairs Cho Kuk, and reinstate the so-called “seven principles” anew. If the presidential office keeps intact the personnel affairs system, which has failed to filter out unqualified candidates, it will not be able to prevent another disaster in its personnel management system.