Justice Ministry Establishes a New Bureau to Vet Political Appointees

Opposition criticized it as a standing body of surveillance over high ranking officials.

Justice Ministry Establishes a New Bureau to Vet Political Appointees

Credit: Newsis.

The Justice Ministry 법무부 established a new Personnel Information Management Bureau 인사정보관리단, provoking opposition from liberals.

Previously, the Office of the Senior Secretary of Civil Affairs and Justice 민정수석비서관실 within the Office of the President handled the internal vetting of potential political appointees. (See Starter Kit, “The Presidency’s Inner Pipework.”) Yoon abolished the Civil Affairs Secretary position, however, arguing the Office of the President “should not be the control tower for internal discipline”. The new PIMB is intended to take over that function.

The opposition Democratic Party 민주당 objected, however, noting that the PIMB, which will be staffed with prosecutors, will effectively be a standing body of surveillance over high-ranking officials under the command of the Justice Minister 법무부장관 - who in this case is Han Dong-hun 한동훈, President Yoon Suk-yeol 윤석열 대통령’s right-hand man whom the liberals deeply mistrust. (See previous coverage, “Yoon’s First Cabinet.”)

Lawyers for a Democratic Society 민주사회를 위한 변호사모임, a prominent progressive civic group, called the PIMB “an above-the-law organ 초법적 기관 that handles everything from intelligence to investigation to indictment.” Democratic Party Assembly Member Jo Eung-cheon 조응천, a former prosecutor, said: “the Justice Ministry would be a repository of personal information of all other public officials from director-general 국장 and up . . . the Ministry would be a threatening presence for other ministries.”

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