About the abrupt resignation of Cho Sang-joon, one of the closest confidants to President Yoon Seok-yeol and the head of the Planning and Coordination Office of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), President Yoon refused to offer the reason behind the resignation, citing “personal reasons.” Controversies remain, however, as Cho, a close advisor to President Yoon, stepped down only after four months from a post handling the personnel and budget of the intelligence agency.
“I’ve accepted his will to resign as he considered it would not be viable to handle his job given the importance of the office,” said President Yoon, answering questions from reporters as he arrived at the presidential office in Yongsan Thursday. “The matter is not public in nature. It is rather 자연스럽게 private,” Mr. Yoon added, refraining from making further comments. “There were some other candidates, and we will take steps swiftly for smooth continuity of work,” said President Yoon when asked about Cho’s potential successor.
“There were some news reports about internal conflicts regarding personnel matters, but they are not true at all,” the NIS announced Thursday. The agency officially repudiated the reports on the “power game” between NIS Chief Kim Kyu-hyeon and Mr. Cho, citing data to back up their case. “It spells trouble for an intelligence agency when its name becomes the subject of the headline,” said an NIS official. Some pundits say the NIS will likely carry out an even more extensive scope of internal reforms and personnel reshuffles, with NIS Director Kim Kyu-kyeon and the new chief of the Planning and Coordination Office at the center of the reform drive. For Cho’s successor, Kim Nam-woo, the former assistant prosecutor general at Seoul Eastern District Court, is considered a strong favorite.
The main opposition Democratic Party said it is a severe breach of national discipline. “It is unthinkable that Mr. Cho tendered his resignation directly to the president without having any consultations with the NIS chief,” said Rep. Shin Jeong-hoon of the Democratic Party during a policy steering committee on Thursday. “President Yoon must clearly explain why he had to accept his resignation.”
Kwan-Seok Jang firstname.lastname@example.org · Jin-Woo Shin email@example.com