Upon his arrival from a three-nation tour on Tuesday night, President Moon Jae-in was briefed on the alleged irregularities by the staff of the special inspection team from presidential chief of staff Im Jong-seok and Cheong Wa Dae senior presidential secretary for civil affairs Cho Kuk. President Moon has ordered his senior aides to come up with measures to strengthen Cheong Wa Dae officials’ discipline.
President Moon also mentioned that people would determine the nature of the incident once the investigation results are out. This comment shows president’s confidence that senior presidential secretary for civil affairs Cho Kuk and his office have done nothing wrong in seeking out irregularities of their staff and handling the case. The incident is highly controversial that President Moon was briefed on the case as soon as he got back from his overseas trip. It is questionable whether the president has made his decision based on various opinions instead of listening to the opinions of his senior aides.
The Office of the Secretary for Civil Affairs is a presidential body that deals with issues that can make or break the administration, such as controlling the prosecutors, police and National Intelligence Service as well as ensuring the integrity of public office. The special inspection team under the Office of the Secretary for Civil Affairs is in charge of those sensitive tasks. The revelation of alleged irregularities of a staff of the special inspection team was followed by additional allegations that other staffs at the inspection team were entertained and treated golf games during office hours. Some of the staff even refused to submit their cell phones during investigation. This is a proof showing lack of discipline among its staff. It is hard to understand why President Moon is so confident that his senior secretary for civil affairs has nothing to do with the incident.
Cho Kuk has not only failed at personnel management but also responsible for lax discipline in Cheong Wa Dae, not to mention his inappropriate behaviors on his social network page. Strengthening discipline in public offices would not be possible without holding the head of the office of civil affairs responsible. Since President Moon has clearly expressed his intention not to hold Cho accountable, it would affect the investigation result by the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office.
President Moon’s attempt to side with Cho would only cause a political crisis for the administration. It is inappropriate to put Cho in charge of strengthening discipline in Cheong Wa Dae and public offices when he is responsible for the current lack of discipline. Cho should not take President Moon’s instruction as a sign of the president’s confidence in himself but voluntarily resign and lighten the burden for the President. It is time for President Moon to consider reforming Cheong Wa Dae including replacing Cho Kuk.