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(2nd LD) Moon's chief of staff, five senior aides offer to resign

Politics 16:54 August 07, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more details in paras 7-8, last para and photo; RESTRUCTURES lead and 2nd para)

SEOUL, Aug. 7 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in's Chief of Staff Noh Young-min and all five senior secretaries of his team offered to resign on Friday, taking responsibility for recent management of administration, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said.

The five are Kang Gi-jung for political affairs, Yoon Do-han for public communication, Kim Jo-won for civil affairs, Kim Geo-sung for civil society, Kim Oe-sook for personnel management.

"They are offering to resign to take overall responsibility for recent situations," said a high-ranking presidential official who is familiar with the matter.

Asked if the "recent situation" referred to the public criticism over what many people believed to be a failed real estate policy, the official did not provide a direct answer.

This image provided by Yonhap News TV shows Noh Young-min, presidential chief of staff. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

It is the first offer of mass resignation by Moon's senior secretaries since he took office in May 2017. The move is widely believed to be intended at taking responsibility for the president's mediocre approval ratings. In a recent poll by the Seoul-based survey company Realmeter, his approval rating stood at 44.5 percent, far below this year's peak of 63.7 percent in late April.

The presidential office has been under intense public fire lately for what some people called hypocrisy after senior secretaries, including Noh, were found to own more than one house at a time when the government is trying to rein in speculative home buying.

A spate of scandals involving lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the abrupt death of Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, also a DP member, over his alleged sexual misconduct, are believed to have soured public opinion toward the government.

Most of all, critics say that the public has grown impatient and disgruntled over runaway apartment prices, despite a slew of government measures intended to cool the property market.

The official added that Moon will decide whether to accept their offers.

Some political analysts expect the president to replace some of his senior secretaries and retain the chief of staff until the end of this year, given, among other things, the limited pool of candidates.

President Moon Jae-in speaks during a meeting with his senior secretaries at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on July 27, 2020. (Yonhap)


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