Moon Appoints NIS Chief, Unification Minister Despite Misgivings

  • By Jeong Woo-sang

    July 30, 2020 10:37

    President Moon Jae-in finalized the appointments of the new head of the National Intelligence Service and unification minister on Wednesday despite serious question marks hanging over their suitability.

    Veteran politician Park Jie-won, who now heads the spy agency, has been dogged by suspicions over a secret deal with North Korea to pay US$3 billion for the historic inter-Korean summit in 2000. And former Minjoo Party floor leader Lee In-young, the new unification minister, refused to clear up questions over his son's exemption from military service during his parliamentary confirmation hearing.

    Since the ruling party has a comfortable majority in the National Assembly, it waved Moon's candidates through despite an opposition boycott.

    President Moon Jae-in (right) shakes hands with the grandson of National Intelligence Service chief Park Jie-won at Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday. /Yonhap

    Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday that a secret deal with North Korea "does not exist." Presidential spokesman Yoon Do-han said, "We checked with Cheong Wa Dae, the National Intelligence Service and Unification Ministry, but no such documents were found within the government."

    The main opposition United Future Party had demanded to look into the suspicions before appointing Park. The opposition party said the National Assembly has become a rubberstamp wing of the executive. UFP lawmaker Chung Jin-suk said, "At this rate it would be better to scrap confirmation hearings altogether."

    With the latest appointments, Moon has set a new record for bulldozing through appointments of senior officials. Moon has appointed no fewer than 25 minister-level officials without opposition consent.

    Even the previous record holder, President Lee Myung-bak railroaded through only 17, and President Park Geun-hye, with her notoriously corrupt operetta court, only 10.

    Moon told Park and Lee as he appointed them, "It is up to you two to help stalled inter-Korean relations progress further."

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