September 1, 2022
SEOUL – President Yoon Suk-yeol is seen as trying to reorganize his office centering on ex-prosecutors by distancing himself from politicians, with many of the aides recommended by politicians with close ties to the president resigning.
This week alone, a dozen employees have resigned from their posts. Two secretaries under the senior secretary for political affairs resigned and the secretary of the senior secretary for civil society was also dismissed. Most have come from politics.
More than 20 of the 420 employees in the presidential office have already left the presidential office or effectually been dismissed in the form of voluntary resignation. According to officials from multiple presidential offices, about 15 to 20 more people are expected to be subject to replacement around the Chuseok holiday.
Earlier, Yoon mentioned discipline through personnel changes. “The presidential office should be the most dedicated and competent group to serve the people properly,” Yoon said when asked about a personnel reshuffle this week.
Some say that Yoon may be distancing himself from the “politicians closest to Yoon” via the reshuffle. Among the officials who resigned were many recommended by recently troubled politicians — the People Power Party’s Floor Leader Kweon Seong-dong, Rep. Chang Je-won and Rep. Yoon Han-hong.
That former prosecutors are leading the personnel reshuffle is also raising such suspicions. Lee Si-won, the secretary for discipline in public office who leads internal inspections, Bok Doo-kyu, the secretary for personnel planning, and Yoon Jae-soon, who is charged with evaluating employees, are all former prosecutors.
Regarding the personnel reshuffle under way in the presidential office, Democratic Party of Korea Floor Leader Park Hong-geun said on Tuesday, “(The presidential office) did not even mention the reprimand or replacement of prosecution-turned-public officials, including the legal secretary and personnel secretary directly responsible for the personnel disaster.”
Former National Intelligence Service chief Park Jie-won predicted that the presidential office is shifting from an era of “politicians close to Yoon” to “prosecutors-turned-officials.”
In a radio interview on Wednesday, Park said, “No former prosecutors are going out of the president’s office and they are taking control of personnel and verification,” adding that the office “is kicking the small fry out and leaving the large fish.”
Political commentator Park Chang-hwan said such a reshuffle is not appropriate.
“The reshuffle could only strengthen the power of ex-prosecutors who are close to Yoon, and alienate his relations with the ruling party,” Park said. “A balanced replacement and hiring of centrist figures is necessary for proper reform.”