26 September 2023

SOUTH KOREA: PM’s friend lands a job at last

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A controversial friend of South Korean President, Moon Jae-in has been selected to head a think tank operating under the Government’s spy Agency.

A statement from the Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS) said it had chosen Kim Ki-jung (pictured) as its head. The INSS is an affiliate of the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

Although the INSS post has remained vacant since former chief, Jo Dong-ho resigned in July, Mr Kim’s personal connection to Mr Moon is believed to have affected the appointment even though Mr Kim has been embroiled in misconduct allegations in the past.

Mr Kim has known the President since they were at school together and he helped in Mr Moon’s first presidential bid in 2012.

In 2017 Mr Kim, then a Political Science Professor at Yonsei University in Seoul, was named the Deputy Director of the National Security Office.

However he resigned less than two weeks after his appointment citing personal issues, at the time the Presidential Office said misconduct allegations while he was working as a professor was one of the reasons. It offered no further elaboration.

In the intervening years Mr Kim has been referred to as a candidate for key diplomatic and security posts, but the mysterious past allegations appear to have repeatedly disqualified him.

The latest such appointment was as Ambassador to India, but again, he was ultimately excluded.

Now this personal appointment by Mr Moon has placed the President in the hot seat.

It comes after Mr Moon’s appointment of Ambassadors to 11 nations, including Germany and Switzerland, came under criticism over their suitability given they lacked expertise in diplomacy and also were apparently chosen only because of their close ties to the Government.

Seoul, 20 November 2020

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