Yoon’s hard line on “fairness” backfires

Posted on : 2021-12-16 16:58 KST Modified on : 2021-12-21 10:54 KST
Yoon’s spouse, Kim Keon-hee, was found to have falsified her resume when applying for a job — the same type of misconduct Yoon excoriated the daughter of former Justice Minister Cho Kuk over
Kim Keon-hee, People Power Party presidential nominee Yoon Seok-youl’s spouse, leaves her home in Seoul’s Seocho District on Wednesday to head to her office. (Yonhap News)
Kim Keon-hee, People Power Party presidential nominee Yoon Seok-youl’s spouse, leaves her home in Seoul’s Seocho District on Wednesday to head to her office. (Yonhap News)

Yoon Seok-youl, the People Power Party presidential nominee who has defined the Moon Jae-in government as a hypocritical, incompetent and corrupt regime and emphasized that he will achieve “fairness” and “justice” by taking the Blue House back from the ruling party, is being put to the test over his wife Kim Keon-hee’s falsified resume.

Yoon, who expressed umbrage at the accusations being made at his wife during a public debate on Tuesday, vacillated between intense anger and issuing an apology within a matter of hours the next day.

When asked about his wife’s position as an adjunct professor, Yoon maintained that it was just a “part-time lecturer” position, which does not depend on her academic qualifications since it was never an open application process. As such, her appointment to the position did not break any laws, according to Yoon.

“When it comes to hiring corruption, it’s not these kinds of documents that are looked at,” Yoon said. “When reporting on this issue, more attention should be paid to customary practice. Don’t just listen to what is being said by one side,” he added.

It was revealed that in the resume Kim submitted to Suwon Women’s University in 2007 for an adjunct professorship, she falsely wrote that she served as an executive at the Korea Association of Game Industry and that she won the top award at the 2004 Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival. After submitting this resume, she was hired as an adjunct professor and worked at the university for 11 months.

Although Yoon’s remarks in the morning criticized the media coverage of his wife, he exhibited an about-face that afternoon. After his wife expressed her willingness to apologize to the public “for causing distress,” Yoon also changed his tone.

“No matter how much [my wife] may have to say on this issue, and no matter how much this feels like an unfair and planned offensive by the ruling party, if [she] was not able to live up to the high expectations of the public in even a small way then it is correct to feel apologetic,” he said.

“I just saw [her apology statement] and I think that her stance seems appropriate,” he added.

Although Yoon seems to have toned down his temper, he still decided to define the suspicions against his wife as a “planned offensive” by the ruling party and distanced himself from the issue by evaluating his wife’s apology instead of issuing an apology of his own.

Park Chan-dae, a senior spokesman for the Democratic Party’s election committee, gave a comment critical of Yoon’s attitude about the reporting on his wife’s case. “Even though the public played no part in any wrongdoing, [Yoon] had an arrogant attitude and only reluctantly apologized for making people feel uncomfortable,” Park said.

Kim’s controversy over lying on her resume, which may be judged as forgery of private documents or obstruction of business, could turn out to be a fatal backfire for Yoon. These charges would be the same as the ones Yoon — then acting as prosecutor general — applied to former Justice Minister Cho Kuk’s daughter’s case of receiving a falsified award certificate which allegedly helped her gain admission to a prestigious university.

Yoon may also face issues with young supporters, who are particularly sensitive when it comes to the topic of unfair opportunities for employment. One People Power Party lawmaker from the greater Seoul area said, “As we strongly criticized former [Justice] Minister Cho Kuk, we should not take this issue lightly in order to avoid criticism that we are acting in a partisan manner.”

Some point out that Kim’s falsified resume will undermine the credibility of Yoon’s campaign pledges of “clearing away foul play and privileges by establishing an equal system.”

Lee Jun-han, a professor of political science and international relations at Incheon National University told the Hankyoreh, “It was revealed that Kim Keon-hee took advantage of information that was different from the facts in the process of applying for a job, and in doing so, abused the process.”

He continued, “It is inevitable that Yoon’s stance on ‘impartiality’ will be attacked.”

Yoon Tae-gon, head of the political analysis department at The MOA, an independent think tank, said “Yoon’s image as a symbol of ‘justice’ to the public seems to have been sullied.”

By Kim Mi-na, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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