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It’s time to answer questions (KOR)

Dec 24,2018
At a tripartite meeting among the Blue House, ruling Democratic Party and government over the weekend, Senior Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs Cho Kuk said he was sorry for giving them “new homework” in the face of many urgent issues, according to participants at the get-together. He may have made the remarks to apologize over the abuse of power by a member of a special inspection team under his office. If he really feels sorry for the scandal, he must consider appearing in front of the Steering Committee of the National Assembly to answer their concerns.

The scandal originally involving Kim Tae-woo — a member of the inspection team — has extended to suspicions about the team spying on civilians. The Blue House brushed it off by saying that the Moon Jae-in administration has no desire to conduct illegal inspections on anybody. But it is not the time for the government to dismiss the scandal based on self-diagnosis. As the government’s self-righteous attitude fueled the controversy, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) claimed that the Blue House surveilled Park Yong-ho, the former head of the Seoul innovation center for the creative economy during the Park Geun-hye administration. Given the alarming suspicions, the LKP’s demand that the Steering Committee convene a session to look into the scandal sounds reasonable.

The opposition’s call for Secretary Cho to be summoned to the committee is not new. He has rejected the LKP’s requests before. “It has been the custom for a senior presidential secretary for civil affairs to not appear for questions at the National Assembly. I must prepare for contingencies,” he said. We wonder why a senior civil affairs secretary must remain in the Blue House even while other secretaries have appeared in the legislature. Is Cho still living in the old authoritarian era? Even President Moon has appeared in front of the Steering Committee meetings three times to answer questions from lawmakers when he served as the senior presidential secretary for civil affairs in the Roh Moo-hyun administration.

Cho posted multiple comments on Facebook opposing his appearance on the committee as if to demonstrate his determination not to be questioned by lawmakers. If he really wants to confront such attacks, he must come to the National Assembly and answer questions. That’s the way to go.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 24, Page 34