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2017-10-30 16:12
President Moon Jae-in’s nomination of former lawmaker Hong Jong-hak to head the new Ministry of Small-Medium Industries and Start-ups is stirring up controversy again over the presidential office’s faulty screening process of candidates for top bureaucratic posts.

The dispute over Hong is particularly disappointing since a previous nominee for the post had to resign over his controversial views on history.

 The presidential office said that Hong was picked among about 20 candidates after a thorough examination for 38 days. But many problems have been found in the course of the intensive verification by the press, including his suspicious accumulation of wealth and his family’s inheritance of an upscale apartment and a commercial building from his wife’s mother.

 Though he claimed he and his 13-year-old daughter paid due tax for the inheritance, he is still suspected of having evaded tax because he split the share of the inherited apartment among his wife and child.

 Not long ago, Hong was in the spotlight after he severely condemned the rich people’s inheritance of wealth, claiming it discourages ordinary people in the low-income bracket. His behavior contradicts such claims.

As a professor of economics at Gachon University, Hong repeatedly has made controversial remarks in papers and books since 1998. In a book, he urged high school students to go to the nation’s most prestigious Seoul National University, claiming that “small- and medium-sized businessmen who did not graduate from prestigious universities have limits and do not have the basic knowledge to compete with geniuses of the world.” He is a graduate of the highly regarded private Yonsei University.

 We wonder whether such a candidate has the capacity to perform such an important task to lead small- and medium-sized businesses, which account for more than 90 percent of the nation’s manufacturing and service industries.

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