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Cheong Wa Dae, Yoon clash over the appointment of BOK chief

Cheong Wa Dae, Yoon clash over the appointment of BOK chief

Posted March. 24, 2022 07:58,   

Updated March. 24, 2022 08:00


South Korean President Moon Jae-in nominated Wednesday Rhee Chang-yong, the director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific department, to succeed to Governor Lee Ju-yeol as the new Bank of Korea (BOK) governor. Cheong Wa Dae and President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol clashed over the nomination. While the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae stated that the president-office’s opinion was taken into account in the nomination, the spokesperson of the president-elect’s office immediately rebutted that it neither discussed with Cheong Wa Dae nor made a recommendation. The conflict between the outgoing and incoming administrations, which was first initiated by Yoon’s declaration to relocate the presidential office to Yongsan, appears to be aggravating over the exercise of authority over personnel affairs.

The squabble over appointment of key roles, however, was prearranged. Both sides are venting their resentment against each other in press meetings and closed briefings, playing ‘truth or dare.’ Some raise concerns that the meeting of the incumbent president and the president-elect prior to the inauguration of the new administration may fall through, which would be unprecedented.

The argument of both sides over the nomination of the new BOK governor is in complete contrast. The president-elect claimed that Cheong Wa Dae had suggested, ‘How do you think about Mr. Rhee[?]’, and that he simply responded, ‘He is a nice man.’ “It is not that I vetoed. [Cheong Wa Dae] did not take a proper nomination procedure, nor did we have discussion. I got a call 10 minutes before the briefing [from Cheong Wa Dae], so I said ‘Do as you wish.’” “We gave a gift as the president-elect wished, and suddenly we were thunderstricken,” repudiated Cheong Wa Dae.

Behind the dispute over who is saying the truth about the nomination of the new BOK governor lies the nomination of the members of audit committee. Cheong Wa Dae is reportedly insisting that at least one of the two vacant seats for the audit committee should be nominated by the current administration, seemingly in preparation for audits of the Moon administration’s nuclear power phase-out policy and solar power generation program by the incoming administration, by filling the positions with proponents of the Moon administration who would serve as “safety net” after President Moon’s retirement.

It is unprecedented that presidential transition has been so frustrating and quarrelsome. The outgoing power seeks to take its share, while the incoming power is pressurizing the incumbent administration to quietly leave. Both sides need to refrain from engaging in further altercation. The outgoing administration should avoid making personnel decisions unless it is absolutely necessary. That would be aligned with the people’s common sense. President-elect Yoon should also give the outgoing power an opportunity to graciously retreat and seek its cooperation, so that people tired of squabbling of the two sides may find peace.