Seven executive officials of Cheong Wa Dae have announced to resign to run for the upcoming general elections in April 2020. Five to six secretary-level officials, including Jung Tae-ho, senior presidential secretary for job creation, Lee Yong-sun, senior secretary for civic affairs, and Cho Han-ki, first secretary of Cheong Wa Dae, are also getting ready for the elections.
The reason behind a series of resignations by the presidential aides is to meet the Democratic Party of Korea’s nomination rule, which requires potential nominees to vacate their posts by July at the latest. Some estimate that a total of 40 to 50 Cheong Wa Dae officials will run for the general elections, including Noh Young-min who has already stepped down from his position as presidential chief of staff. New appointments will be made next week to fill up these empty posts at Cheong Wa Dae and for vice minister positions. Cheong Wa Dae and ministries are already buzzing with the activities for the upcoming elections that are 11 months away. The opposition parties are criticizing this development by saying that Cheong Wa Dae has become the Democratic Party’s general election camp and the National Assembly has long been a field office of Cheong Wa Dae.
Although there have been cases where officials run for general elections after serving at the presidential office in the previous administrations, this year’s large volume is unprecedented. There is a concern that the vacancies of multiple aides who have been appointed for their recognized expertise in various fields will leave holes in political assistance. It will also negatively impact the current administration’s competitiveness as aides who are supposed to develop and adjust plans based on a long-term perspective encompassing an entire presidential term and the nation’s future are heading to the political scene even before President Moon Jae-in has made it to the halfway point of his term in the office.
National issues under the oversight of Cheong Wa Dae are becoming ever more complex and challenging in President Moon who has entered the third year of his term. As a time like this desperately calls for presidential aides’ political assistance and adjustment capabilities, their resignations amount to the abandonment of responsibilities for state affairs. Not all aides can be expected to walk the same path, but some of the aides’ sole interest in the general elections seems rather divergent from what they have promised when first appointed. The public can’t help but feel disappointed.
In addition, there are still many months ahead before the general elections kick in full gear. It is a national waste for the administration and ministries to be swayed by the elections this early on. A balance must be restored in the political landscape that can be easily overheated to avoid the blame on the presidential office for its alleged appointment of aides for general election nominations.