Senior presidential aides offer to resign

08-Aug-2020 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:50 AM Print This Post

Presidential chief of staff Noh Young-min and five other senior presidential aides have offered to resign, Cheong Wa Dae said Friday.

The surprise announcement follows negative public sentiment toward the Moon Jae-in administration over mismanagement of a range of primary policies affecting people’s livelihoods. In particular, more people are abandoning their support for the Moon administration due to its failure to contain soaring housing prices in Seoul and nearby areas.

“The chief of staff and five senior secretaries expressed their intention to resign to the President this morning,” presidential spokesman Kang Min-seok said in a briefing.

Those offering their resignations are Kang Gi-jung, senior secretary for political affairs; Kim Jo-won, senior secretary for civil affairs; Yoon Do-han, senior secretary for public communication; Kim Oe-sook, senior secretary for personnel affairs; and Kim Geo-sung, senior secretary for civic and social affairs.

Most of them have been working for the President since early last year, and there had been rumours that some senior aides would be replaced in the coming weeks. But a mass resignation at Cheong Wa Dae, the first since Moon took office in May 2017, was unexpected.

It was not immediately known whether or when the President will accept their resignations, a senior presidential aide told reporters.

“The reason for the resignations is to take responsibility for the recent situation,” the aide said, without elaborating. “We cannot say for sure when the President will make a final decision.”

If Moon decides to accept their departures, the presidential office will undergo another reshuffle only weeks after one performed July 24, when Moon replaced four secretaries who owned multiple houses.

Most of the aides who offered to resign have been mired in controversies over their ownership of several homes, which goes against the Moon administration’s policy objective of containing speculative buying and stabilising housing prices.

The main opposition United Future Party (UFP) criticised the resignations, saying the aides chose their houses over their posts.

“Looking at this announcement, there is a glaring absence of people who should be taking the biggest blame for failures in state management,” UFP spokeswoman Rep. Kim Eun-hye said, referring to Kim Sang-jo, chief presidential secretary for policy, and Land, Infrastructure and Transport minister Kim Hyun-mee. “It will be impossible to overcome this crisis just by replacing a few aides.”

The announcement came just a day after the presidential office reiterated that it intends to have all its senior aides complete the sale of homes other than their main residence and submit copies of contracts by the end of this month, in accordance with a recommendation previously made by the chief of staff earlier this year. But Noh has become a centre of controversy for initially deciding to sell a less expensive property in his “political home” of South Chungcheong Province, rather than his other home in the affluent Gangnam District in Seoul.

The senior civil affairs secretary Kim Jo-won has further aggravated public mistrust of the Moon administration with his alleged reluctance to sell one of his expensive homes in the Gangnam area.

“We are still determined to achieve zero multiple house owners at the presidential office by the end of this month,” another senior presidential aide told reporters, Thursday.

It is uncertain how the President will react to the offer of resignations. But the need for a reshuffle of the presidential office has been highlighted for some time to bring fresh policy momentum as Moon and his party struggle with plummeting public support.

A Realmeter survey published this week showed that the UFP is quickly catching up to the DPK in job approval ratings. Moon’s popularity rating, which once soared above 70 percent, has been sitting in the 40 percent range in recent weeks.

The ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) recently railroaded revision bills through the National Assembly to impose heavier taxation on those who own several homes and speculators, but this has only angered the public.


Category: Korea

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