Ninety days ahead of the general elections, today is the last day government officials should resign to run for the general elections. Along with the series of resignation of presidential office staff, including former presidential secretary for state affairs Yun Kun-young, high ranking government officials and judges are also following suit, and most of them want to be nominated by the ruling Democratic Party. It appears as if the ruling party is fixated on winning the elections.
The number of Cheong Wa Dae officials who declared to run for the elections has reached 70. In an attempt to allay concerns, presidential senior secretary for political affairs Kang Gi-jung said, “Those who were involved in politics should not be counted as Cheong Wa Dae officials.” However, not only is this arbitrary, but his remarks intend to alleviate concerns in the ruling party that the experience of working for Cheong Wa Dae has given some an advantage. Even some in the ruling party are voicing concerns that three times more Cheong Wa Dae officials are running for the elections, compared to the previous administration.
Song Byung-gi, former Ulsan vice mayor suspected of illegally intervening in the 2018 mayoral election in the southeastern city, was dismissed two days ago. There are allegations that this move has been made so that he could run for the office, given that a suspect cannot resign. It is still unknown if Song will run for the elections. If he does, the government will not be able to avoid criticism that it is trying to hamper the prosecution’s investigation efforts.Judges, who rumored to join the ruling party, have also resigned. They were either a head of a group of progressive judges or criticized the system built by former Chief Justice Yang Seung-tae. Political impartiality and independence is more important for judges than for any other positions. Although their political leanings cannot be blindly blamed, it must be noted that they shared criticism of Yang’s system with the ruling party, which can add political pressure. With progressive judges leaving the court for the presidential office under the incumbent administration, concerns are rising that the judiciary is becoming more politicized.
It would not be right to collectively blame officials who have resigned to run for the general election. However, the ruling party, which is involving government officials to win the elections, and public servants who consider public offices nothing more than a stepping stone should be criticized. Voters should be discerning in choosing who to vote for.