Another child of senior Yoon admin pick found to have interned at Kim & Chang

Posted on : 2024-06-10 18:01 KST Modified on : 2024-06-10 18:01 KST
The daughter of the newly appointed senior presidential secretary for civil affairs landed an internship at the leading law firm Kim & Chang while her father held a senior position in the Ministry of Justice
President Yoon Suk-yeol (left) answers questions from reporters after introducing his new senior secretary for civil affairs, former Ministry of Justice Vice Minister Kim Joo-hyun at the presidential office in Seoul on May 7, 2024. (Yonhap) 
President Yoon Suk-yeol (left) answers questions from reporters after introducing his new senior secretary for civil affairs, former Ministry of Justice Vice Minister Kim Joo-hyun at the presidential office in Seoul on May 7, 2024. (Yonhap) 

As an undergraduate, the daughter of the current senior presidential secretary for civil affairs Kim Joo-hyun worked as an intern at the law firm Kim & Chang, the Hankyoreh has learned. 

With Kim & Chang’s history of rarely employing undergraduate interns and its lack of recruitment announcements or other procedures for their hiring, some are alleging that Kim may have taken advantage of his senior position within the Ministry of Justice at the time. 

In an investigation on Sunday, the Hankyoreh found that the younger Kim — now 32 — took part in a Kim & Chang internship program in July 2012 while she was a third-year student in media studies at Korea University. 

Kim announced her participation in a Facebook post at the time and was interviewed as a cover model for a newsletter operated by a major employment site. 

“During this vacation, I’ll be doing an internship at Korea’s biggest law firm,” she was quoted as saying in the interview. “This was a difficult opportunity to come by, and I’ll be reporting to work a little earlier and working harder than the other interns.” 

In the same month that she was taking part in the July 2012 internship, her father Kim Joo-hyun was selected for a key post within the Ministry of Justice as planning and coordination office director. 

As Kim & Chang’s interns typically only include currently enrolled law students and law school graduates, some are contending that the very fact that the younger Kim worked there as an undergraduate constituted preferential treatment. 

“There was unofficial hiring of the children of people who were friendly with Kim & Chang, including important clients and people in positions [with the courts or prosecutors],” said one attorney who worked at the firm for around five years. 

After completing her Kim & Chang internship and graduating, the daughter was admitted to the Sungkyunkwan University law school. 

Another attorney surnamed Park said, “For law school admissions at Seoul universities in particular, the competition comes down to a very slim margin of points. A Kim & Chang internship is the kind of thing that only the very top law school students would have access to, and an internship there as an undergraduate would likely have had a significant influence on [Kim’s] law school admission.” 

After graduating from law school, Kim worked as a law clerk before being hired by Kim & Chang last year. This means she and her father were employed at the same workplace until his appointment as senior presidential secretary for civil affairs and justice last month. 

When asked for comment by the Hankyoreh, Kim & Chang said, “Although there is typically no separate recruitment advertising for undergraduate internships, students do make inquiries via email or telephone, and we provide applicants with separate guidance on the procedures and examine [their applications] fairly.” 

“We cannot comment on how [Kim’s] particular case took place, and we have no related records,” the firm added. 

Commenting by way of the office of the presidential office’s spokesperson, Kim Joo-hyun said that his daughter “would have followed the procedures” and that he was “not involved.” 

His daughter did not reply to numerous requests from the Hankyoreh for comment. 

Kim Joo-hyun, the senior secretary to the president for civil affairs, speaks to reporters in the presidential office’s briefing room after being appointed on May 7, 2024. (pool photo)  
Kim Joo-hyun, the senior secretary to the president for civil affairs, speaks to reporters in the presidential office’s briefing room after being appointed on May 7, 2024. (pool photo)  

By Kwak Jin-san, staff reporter; Chai Yoon-tae, staff reporter 

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

 

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