|Yun Ho-gen, artistic and generation director of the Korea National Opera (KNO). Courtesy of KNO|
KNO director denies allegation, vows to fight against ministry
By Kang Hyun-kyung
Yun Ho-gen, artistic and general director of the Korea National Opera (KNO), has been pressured to resign over allegations that he abused his power in the hiring process at the organization, something he denies.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism reportedly notified Yun, Monday, that he would be dismissed and Culture Minister Park Yang-woo would soon make an official announcement.
A leadership vacuum in the national opera will be inevitable, if the dismissal is confirmed. Three of its previous heads failed to complete their three-year tenure.
According to the culture ministry, last August the KNO hired a senior-level official in charge of planning, identified as A, who is allegedly an acquaintance of Yun, who supposedly exerted influence to help him get the job.
According to the KNO's job opening announcement last year, the successful candidate must have had at least seven years of experience as a planner of concerts or operas in organizations either in Korea or abroad, and at least two years in management. The official who was selected had 11 years of experience at Seoul City Opera. The selection committee consisted of people both from within and outside the KNO, and all the outside committee members gave the chosen candidate the highest scores.
Yun denied the cronyism allegation, threatening legal action against the culture ministry if he is dismissed.
"During the culture ministry's investigation of the case last month, investigators claimed the selected official and I were alumni of the same university and that this eroded the fair selection rule. But they were wrong because in the selections, I and other interviewers were not in a position to know which university each candidate attended because we were not allowed access to such information. Thus, at that time, I didn't know he and I attended the same university."
Yun also dismissed the culture ministry's claim that he had to disclose to the selection committee in advance that he knew the candidate and recuse himself from the selection process. Citing the ethics code for public servants, he said he didn't breach the rule that prohibits the recruitment of people who had worked with selection committee members within two years.
Yun said he and the senior-level official are not relatives and he had never worked with the Seoul Opera where the man had worked for 11 years. "I did work with the opera as a guest conductor for a while but the last time I collaborated with the organization was back in February 2016, so it didn't violate the recent two-year rule."
He vowed to fight to the end, claiming the allegation, if not cleared, will hurt his integrity. "If I accept the order to resign, my integrity will be hurt seriously. No matter how the court will decide on this matter, I will fight to the end," he said.