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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on May 4)

Politics 06:59 May 04, 2021

Shame on nominees

Confirmation hearings for nominees for ministerial positions in the Moon Jae-in administration begin today. But the candidates' qualifications as government ministers raise serious questions. If the government pushes ahead with their appointments, it will have serious ramifications.

A case in point is Lim Hye-sook, a professor of electronic and electrical engineering at Ewha Womans' University and nominee to head the Ministry of Science and ICT. According to a lawmaker from the opposition, she is suspected of having plagiarized one of her students' master's thesis before presenting her paper to an academic journal. As the opposition lawmaker has discovered, a considerable portion of the paper was apparently copied from her student's thesis. Lim submitted it to the journal published by the Korean Information & Communications Society. Her thesis was coauthored by her husband, a Konkuk University professor. More confusing is the co-listing of her husband's name on her student's thesis for a master's degree, which suggests a serious conflict of interest.

When the government was reviewing candidates for the chairperson of the National Research Council of Science and Technology (NST), a body overseeing 25 state-funded research institutions, Lim refused to answer open questions from their union about how to support their research. "I will study later on," she tersely said. She managed to become the chairperson. The community of science and technology in Korea is dumbfounded after she was nominated to head the Ministry of Science and ICT just three months after her appointment as the chairperson. The NST strictly demands political neutrality from candidates for its board chair. But she said she already met the requirements as she had left the ruling Democratic Party (DP) before being appointed as the chair of the board three months ago.

The shenanigans of the wife of Oceans and Fisheries Minister nominee Park Jun-young are over the top. When her husband returned home after finishing his job at the Korean Embassy in the UK, she brought in European china worth tens of thousands of dollars and sold them. She posted all the related information on Facebook. Noh Hyeong-wook, nominee to head the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, sold an apartment he received from the government in return for living in the Sejong Administrative City for 220 million won in profit without residing in it.

It was the Roh Moo-hyun administration that initiated confirmation hearing to look into candidates for public office. But the system has lost its meaning with such substandard candidates. The government must wake up.
(END)

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