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Cabinet nominees set to run the gauntlet as second nominee in crosshairs

April 18, 2022 - 15:19 By Im Eun-byel

Health Minister nominee Chung Ho-young arrives at work at an office in western Seoul, Monday. (Yonhap)

The Democratic Party of Korea ratcheted up its attack on President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s Cabinet nominations, raising allegations against a second nominee.

Kim In-chul, the nominee for deputy prime minister and education minister, has been accused of improperly holding an additional position while he was president of the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

According to Rep. Park Chan-dae from the Democratic Party, Kim worked as a nonexecutive director of Lotte Chemical, then Lotte Advanced Materials, receiving more than 100 million won ($81,000) during his term between March 2018 and December 2019, while he was also the university’s president.

As the Educational Officials Act requires university professors to receive approval from a university president in order to hold an additional paid position, Park claimed Kim gave himself permission as he was the president of the university at the time.

“It is rare for a local university president to hold an additional post -- furthermore at a company irrelevant to his studies,” Park said, adding only 15 faculty members of the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, 2.16 percent of the total 694, held an additional position as nonexecutive directors as of 2019.

“I wonder whether the school was able to properly screen the permission, while Kim himself holds the right to give a final approval,” Park said.

Since the nomination, Kim has been accused of mistreating students, with some videos showing Kim yelling at students protesting the university’s policies.

Kim is also accused of collecting inappropriate information on students’ parents. In 2015, the university ran a survey on students asking if their parents are high-ranking public officials, lawmakers, doctors or took up other socially influential professions.

Separately, Health Minister nominee Chung Ho-young has been accused of using his high-ranking position at a hospital in getting his children admitted into an affiliated medical school.

Chung’s daughter entered Kyungpook National University’s medical school when he was serving as vice head of the affiliated Kyungpook National University Hospital. His son was also admitted to the same medical school the following year when the he was head of the same university hospital.

“I have never wrongfully used my position for my children,” Chung said at a press conference held Sunday. “I would like to clarify that there was never an illegal action or injustice.”

Kyungpook National University has also denied the accusations, saying it will request the Education Ministry to run an inspection on the matter.

While the opposition Democratic Party has been denouncing the Cabinet nominees, the President-elect asked citizens to wait for the parliamentary confirmation hearing.

Bae Hyun-jin, Yoon’s spokesperson, said Monday that Chung’s Sunday press conference showed that he is willing to be honest and up front.

“Please see if this is the right person for the people through the parliamentary confirmation hearing,” Bae said.

By Im Eun-byel (