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Outgoing power’s obsession with authority over personnel affairs

Outgoing power’s obsession with authority over personnel affairs

Posted March. 25, 2022 07:44,   

Updated March. 25, 2022 07:44


“What negotiations are needed in order for the two of us to exchange greetings and words of advice. It's not like we're negotiating,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday regarding a meeting with President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol. He implied that personnel matters should not be an agenda of or condition to a meeting between the two. The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said personnel matters are the rights of the president and such rights should not be exercised by the president-elect until the end of the current president’s term. “It is not appropriate for the outgoing president to select people who will work with a new government for a long time,” said Yoon. “Nearing the end of my term, I will work with the next government and do the same.”

The row between the old and new powers over the appointment of the next governor of the Bank of Korea and issues regarding the auditors of the Board of Audit and Inspection is unprecedented. It was customary for an outgoing president to refrain from appointing high-ranking officials once his successor was decided. It is against common sense for the outgoing power to appoint officials who will work with a new government. However, the current government is completely different. It makes you wonder if there was any outgoing power obsessed with authority over personnel matters.

Cheong Wa Dae said it would make a recommendation for one of the two auditor positions that are currently empty. It was reported that the president is very determined. The Board of Audit and Inspection, which deliberates on and votes for audit results, is consisted of a chairman and six auditors who serve for four years. Two out of four auditors, excluding the empty posts, are pro-Moon. In particular, Kim In-hoi jointly wrote a book on prosecution reform with President Moon. Including Chairman Choi Jae-hae, three members of the board are on the president’s side. It seems that the current government thinks it should add one more pro-Moon figure before his retirement to create a four to three structure before the new administration takes office to prepare for inspections of its actions, including the nuclear power phase-out project. It seems clear that the outgoing power’s intention is to protect itself.

The current Moon administration has been engaging in similar behavior even before the presidential election by frequently appointing the heads of diplomatic offices overseas and deploying advisors from Cheong Wa Dae and figures from pro-government civic groups to key posts in public institutions and state-owned companies. According to the People Power Party, 59 people took up posts in public institutions by the current administration’s appointment during the last six months of its term. Seventy-one percent of them will hold their posts until the mid-point of the new administration’s term.

President Moon said he felt frustrated and asked the president-elect to make his own decision without listening to others. “The new administration has a say yet it is treating us very poorly,” said a Cheong Wa Dae advisor. Given the behavior related to personnel matters showcased by Cheong Wa Dae nearing the end of its term, it sounds like they are playing victims with two faces.