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(EDITORIAL from Korea Herald on Aug. 26)

Editorials from Korean dailies 06:56 August 26, 2022

Stop dawdling
Parties must recommend candidates for special inspector immediately

The special inspector of the presidential office probes allegations involving the president's spouse, close relatives and senior presidential secretaries.

If the National Assembly recommends three candidates, the president nominates one of them and appoints the special inspector after a parliamentary confirmation hearing.

The presidential office said Monday that it is waiting for the National Assembly to recommend candidates. It reaffirmed that Yoon will appoint a special inspector once the Assembly recommends candidates.

But it is questionable if the ruling and opposition parties are willing to recommend candidates quickly.

The governing People Power Party proposes a simultaneous recommendation of candidates for special inspector of the presidential office; directors of the yet-to-be-launched North Korean Human Rights Foundation; and commissioners of the National Education Commission.

The opposition Democratic Party of Korea maintains that the issue of recommending candidates for foundation board members should be dealt with separately. The party has so far dragged its feet in recommending candidates for directors of the foundation, effectively obstructing the launch of the organization that will research the human rights situation in North Korea and develop related policies.

Rather, several National Assembly members of the Democratic Party proposed a bill to appoint a special counsel who will probe allegations involving first lady Kim Keon-hee. She was allegedly involved in stock price manipulation and falsified information on her career when she applied for teaching jobs at multiple universities.

The allegations were raised numerous times during the presidential campaign. Prosecutorial and police investigations are underway, and the first lady has apologized for falsifying information regarding her career. The Democratic Party is pushing for a special counsel investigation targeting Yoon's spouse or a parliamentary inspection. Ironically, however, it is passive when it comes to recommending a special inspector who will constantly inspect issues involving Kim. Woo Sang-ho, interim leader of the party, said that "as for us, it is more interesting to let controversies keep arising around first lady Kim when the special inspector is not around." This appears to be for the purpose of maximizing its political offensive. From the Democratic Party's standpoint, a special inspector who probes allegations silently may not be as attractive as a special counsel investigation or a parliamentary inspection which would draw more attention from the media.

The presidential office sometimes is put in an embarrassing position due to allegations connected with Kim.

An apparent fan of Kim's on Wednesday uploaded a post on a Facebook fan page for the first lady, disclosing confidential details about the itinerary of President Yoon's visit to Daegu and urging other fans to publicize his trip and assemble at the venue where Yoon will go. The presidential office launched an inspection into the secret leakage.

Earlier, Kim visited the presidential office in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, in a personal capacity, on May 27 and 28. Then a photo of the first couple sitting in chairs in the office during that visit was uploaded to the fan club's Facebook page. The picture, which was taken in a security zone, was leaked via an abnormal channel. However, the controversy fizzled out without a clear explanation from the presidential office.

A small company related to Covana Contents, an art exhibition planning company that Kim ran before her husband was elected president, reportedly participated in an ongoing project to build the presidential residence. The presidential office has kept silent on the matter.

These allegations are not verified, but are of no help to the president or the administration of state affairs. The presidential office needs to manage issues related to the first lady officially. The speedy appointment of a special inspector is a solution to tighten discipline in the presidential office, as well as preventing unnecessary suspicions.

It is illogical for the People Power Party to argue that the recommendation of candidates for special inspector of the presidential office should be linked to that of other organizations. The posts are not connected in terms of business. It is also less convincing for the Democratic Party to shun the launch of the North Korean Human Rights Foundation. Both parties must look beyond partisan interests and recommend candidates for a special inspector, directors of the foundation and commissioners of the National Education Commission -- immediately.
(END)

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