The Washington Post on Saturday devoted a front-page article to the embarrassing revelation that President Park Geun-hye's nominee for science minister has long-standing ties to the CIA.
Kim Jeong-hoon, a Korean-American entrepreneur, was dropped when his links to the CIA were made public.
"His connection to the CIA has stoked fears among some South Koreans that Kim would act as a spy for the U.S. government," the daily wrote.
The daily quoted Victor Cha, a Korean affairs expert at Georgetown University, as calling opposition to the nomination "a nationalist knee-jerk reaction."
"Koreans have no problem with a Korean as UN secretary general and a Korean-American like Jim Kim as World Bank president, but this is closer to home, so maybe they balk a bit," Cha told the daily.
He added Kim "may be the victim of Koreans' lack of enthusiasm for the incoming president's 'close-hold' style of governing thus far. So they tend to be a bit critical of perceived mistakes... This is not one of them. The man is qualified."