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Song’s suspicious career

June 24,2017
Song Young-moo, the former Navy chief of staff tapped as the defense minister for the new Moon Jae-in administration, is being contested by the opposition as unfit due to his connection with the arms industry. A month after he retired as the Navy chief of staff, he was recommended as a nonpermanent policy adviser to the Agency for Defense Development.

After three months, he also advised private law firm Yulchon LLC on defense procurement contracts. He earned 990 million ($869,565) from the law firm for his service over two years and nine months. He reportedly worked two days or 14 hours a week. For that, he had earned 30 million a month.

It raises questions about what kind of contribution Song would have made in return for such generous consultant fees. Song claimed he mostly advised lawyers on the defense terms and procurement projects. From July 2013, he began consulting a defense manufacturer. Song said he contributed to our export of weapons systems by advising on the combat design of a submarine the company was exporting to Indonesia.

After Song took the job of consulting for the company, the share of its procurements from the Navy and Marine Corps against total orders tripled. Song, while as the Navy chief of staff, also allegedly commanded against an internal probe on illegality related to supplies to the Gyeryongdae tri-service headquarters.

No defense companies have recently come under scrutiny for irregularities. But someone who has served in a high position as chief of staff could have exercised influence in procurement affairs by pitching on the need of a certain project or advancing the date of procurement.

His moral integrity is also in question for accepting a consultant position at a legal office less than a year after retirement as well as advising a defense company despite the risk of a conflict of interests. Under Song, President Moon can hardly assure reforms in the defense sector as he had promised.

JoongAng Ilbo, June 23, Page 34