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Moon’s nominees face Assembly

In the wake of Kang’s appointment, parties may push back hard
June 26,2017
Tension is mounting in the National Assembly as the ruling and opposition parties gear up for a series of confirmation hearings this week on President Moon Jae-in’s nominees for top government posts.

The legislature will start a week of confirmation hearings with a session to scrutinize Han Seung-hee, nominated to head the National Tax Service, on Monday. Defense Minister-nominee Song Young-moo and Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister-nominee Kim Yung-rok will be grilled on Wednesday.

Confirmation hearings for Kim Sang-kon, named to become the deputy prime minister for social affairs and education minister, and Cho Myoung-gyon, nominated to head the Unification Ministry, will take place on Thursday. On Friday, the National Assembly will hold hearings for Cho Dae-yop, nominated as the labor minister, and Chung Hyun-back, named to head the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

A confirmation hearing for Environment Minister-nominee Kim Eun-kyung is scheduled on July 3. You Young-min, named to head the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, will be questioned the next day.

The legislature’s operation has been paralyzed for days due to the main opposition Liberty Korea Party’s protest against Moon’s appointment of Kang Kyung-wha as the foreign minister despite opposition parties’ rejection. Chief negotiators of the parties still managed to agree last week to hold confirmation hearings this week and vet the nominees.

The Liberty Korea Party warned of particularly aggressive attacks against Kim Sang-kon, Song Young-moo and Cho Dae-yop. The conservative opposition party calls the three nominees a “trio of corruptions” for a series of suspicions surrounding their pasts.

The party said Kim, nominated to become the deputy minister for social affairs and minister of education, has a history of plagiarism. It also said he is unfit to serve the post for his pro-North Korea ideological leaning. Kim, when he was a professor of Hanshin University in 2005, argued for the withdrawal of the U.S. Forces Korea and the end of the Korea-U.S. alliance, and the party said it is one of examples that show Kim’s unfitness for the job.

The party also said Song is unfit to serve as defense minister because of his ties to arms companies. It also protested Cho for having lied to the public about his drunk-driving record.

The conservative opposition Bareun Party also said it opposes the three nominees for the same reasons. The Justice Party, a progressive minority party that generally supported Moon’s previous nominations, also made clear its opposition to Song.

“Song received extremely high consulting fees from arms companies after he left the military service,” said Rep. Chu Hye-seon, spokeswoman of the Justice Party. “In the past, such a nominee failed to be appointed.”

The ruling Democratic Party said it will to its best to hold proper hearings. “Allegations against the nominees could be explained clearly at the hearings,” said Baek Hye-ryun, spokeswoman of the party.

The ruling party also issued a statement to defend Song, claiming that some of the allegations were “groundless slander.”

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]