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National Intelligence Service reverts personnel assignment

National Intelligence Service reverts personnel assignment

Posted June. 15, 2023 08:02,   

Updated June. 15, 2023 08:02


It was reported that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) canceled the assignment of seven general directors and directors of Class I, which was only announced five days ago, and issued a waiting order for all the seven officials, making it the first occasion where the assignment of high-ranking NIS positions was reverted after the presidential office verified it with a presidential determination issued and even officially announced. Consequently, NIS Director Kim Kyou-hyun submitted a resignation letter to the presidential office last week to hold himself responsible for reversing the assignment announcement.

The unprecedented cancellation of personnel assignments is another occurrence that implies internal discord following the sudden resignation of Cho Sang-joon, a deputy director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), last October under President Yoon Yoon Suk Yeol's administration. Back then, rumor had it that the then deputy director Cho, a former prosecutor known to be close to President Yoon, and Director Kim, a former diplomat, were often at odds with each other regarding personnel matters. On a recent occasion, it was said that things were put on hold as it was belatedly reported to the presidential office that a high-ranking official who is close to Director Kim interfered with communication at the leadership level to pull some strings in the assignment process. The controversy was internally spurred as it turned out that promotions were given to the official in question and his close friends and former colleagues.

Every time a new government is inaugurated, it is seemingly a conventional practice that the NIS undergo large-scale personnel restructuring. A large number of NIS high-class leaders have left the agency once a new administration came into power promising to reshuffle the personnel system or drain the swamp. The Yoon administration also discharged all NIS leaders of Class I who were appointed by the previous administration and assigned the vacant positions to those internally promoted last September or four months after it took office. It newly assigned Class II and Class III positions as well at the end of the last year. As some high-ranking leaders who failed to be promoted last year raised their voices regarding the assignment of Class I positions, even the announced appointments were unprecedentedly revoked.

It needs to be taken seriously that the country's central agency for national security is still in trouble amid the internal strife regarding personnel matters, even in the second year of the current government. More importantly, the NIS is supposed to run unwaveringly and persistently as an intelligence agency. Nevertheless, the agency of such great significance still struggles with disagreements over personnel assignments, presumably because of a deeply rooted ugly combination of political circles regarding the agency as a puppet for the sake of government security of their own and the agency's insiders who take advantage. Regrettably, if every new administration wrongly believes that the first thing to do is to remove "traitors” selected by their predecessors, this organization that requires secrecy and confidentiality will only receive unpleasant and unnecessary attention to its internal affairs.