South Korean president Moon criticised over political nominees’ ‘ethical infractions’

Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, is coming under withering attack for nominations to some of the senior positions in his administration after it was revealed that five of the names put forward have skeletons in their closets. 

Confirmation hearings are taking place before the National Assembly after Mr Moon decided to shuffle his cabinet earlier this month, but an editorial in the JoongAng Daily has claimed that the hearings have merely “laid bare the ethical infractions of the nominees”.

“We are dumbfounded by the never-ending stories of malfeasance at the hearings”, it added.  Yoo Eun-hye, who has been nominated as education minister, has been accused of faking her residential documents so that her daughter could attend a better school, while her son has been able to avoid compulsory military service. 

Similarly, Lee Jae-kap, who has been put forward for the post of employment and labour minister, is suspected of trading unlisted stocks and providing false details on his primary residence, the paper reported. 

In his campaign for the presidency last year, Mr Moon vowed not to nominate anyone to key positions in his government if they had been involved in any of five forms of corruption; dodging the draft, tax evasion, speculation in real estate and stocks, plagiarism or forging documents to claim residency in a district with good schools. 

Two more categories were subsequently added by the presidential Blue House, drink driving and sexual misconduct.

At the same time, however, the Blue House relaxed the rules on some of the other areas, such as by stating that providing false residency data to get a child into a better school on one occasion would be overlooked. 

Profile | Moon Jae-in

Yet nominees cannot even meet these lowered standards, the JoongAng Daily pointed out.  Lee Eun-ae and Kim Ki-young, two senior lawyers who have been put forward as justices in the Constitutional Court, are suspected of providing false addresses to get their children into better schools no fewer than 10 times between them.

Lee Suk-tae, another nominee to the court, faces charges of under-reporting a real estate transaction to avoid taxes. 

“The hearings must get to the bottom of people’s suspicions,” the paper added. “If they are proven true, the Blue House must admit its mistakes and immediately withdraw the nominations. Otherwise, the Moon administration will suffer irrevocable damage to its integrity”.

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