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2015-02-10 17:04
By Kwon Mee-yoo



Kim Jong-deok
Culture minister

Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) Kim Jong-deok is under fire for appointing senior officials from among his college alumni.

Lee Young-chul, artistic director of the Asian Culture Complex (ACC) in Gwangju, was dismissed from his position on Jan. 10. He was blamed by an outside appraisal board for not providing a definite plan for the content creation center and delaying its opening.

Lee claimed that the outside board consisted of Kim's relatives and those with connections to his school, and it was unfair to relieve him of his post without an opportunity for an explanation. Lee also argued that his successor, Mok Jin-yo, who was named on the same day he was dismissed, attended Hongik University, Kim's alma mater.

The ministry said that that Choi Jong-man, director of the Institute of Asian Cultural Development which oversees the ACC, determined that Lee neglected his duty and caused a setback in the opening; and that Mok is a proper candidate for the position as he is a media expert who worked for the center before Kim took the post last year.

However, Mok is not the only Hongik-related figure who was recently named as head of organizations affiliated with the MCST. Minister Kim graduated from Hongik University and taught visual design there.

Korean Film Council President Kim Se-hoon graduated from the university; Arirang TV President Bang Suk-ho was a professor there; as was Korea Copyright Commission Chairman Oh Seung-jong.

The MCST said this was just a coincidence and the directors were named based on their expertise, not school ties.

The ministry’s personnel chaos dates back to July when Cheong Wa Dae dismissed former culture minister Yoo Jin-ryong from the post without a successor.

Jung Sung-keun, a former SBS anchorman and short-lived president of Arirang TV, was nominated for minister of culture, sports and tourism, but he withdrew because of a previous drunk-driving offense and other illicit activities.

Kim was finally named for the top job at the ministry in August, but personnel problems grew even worse.

In October, six top-ranking officials offered to resign simultaneously, ahead of a reshuffle, and three of them ultimately left the ministry.

The personnel matters became the center of attention again in December, when former presidential aide Jeong Yun-hoe was accused of ordering with transfer of top sports officials.

The ministry started the New Year by naming soprano Han Ye-jin to the long-vacant position of general director of the Korea National Opera, but immediately faced objections from the local opera community, citing her lack of professionalism and experience.

First vice culture minister Kim Hee-beom offered to resign for an unspecified reason on Jan. 22, which is unusual for such high-level officials at the ministry.

Cheong Wa Dae named Park Min-kwon, a bureaucrat who has a diverse experience at the MCST, as his replacement, Sunday. Some have suspected the former vice minister had a falling out with Minister Kim because the reason for his resignation has still not been fully explained.

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