President Moon Jae-in on Sunday withdrew his nomination for his new science minister over his participation in an international conference deemed inappropriate.
The withdrawal comes after the minister-nominee, Cho Dong-ho, came under fire in his parliamentary confirmation hearing for his participation in the 2017 World Biomarkers Congress, an international conference known to be organized by OMICS International.
"Nominee Cho Dong-ho did not reveal his participation in the non-performing overseas conference and it also was not revealed in background checks by the education ministry and other related organizations, which is why (he) was not screened out in our verification process," the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said of the reason for his nomination.
"It was pointed out in the process of his confirmation hearing that the nominee may not meet the eyes of the people, and (the president) decided to withdraw his nomination after due deliberation," it said.
It marks the first time that the president is withdrawing his nomination of a Cabinet minister since he took office in May 2017.
The withdrawal of Moon's nomination of Cho came shortly after his pick for a new transportation minister, Choi Jeong-ho, announced he will step down over alleged real estate speculation.
Choi was grilled over his one-time ownership of two houses and the purchase right over another.
Cheong Wa Dae said it was aware of Choi's possessions but went ahead with his nomination based on his qualifications.
"Other than (Cho's) participation in a non-performing overseas conference, the shortfalls pointed out in the confirmation hearings were identified in the verification process. Despite (those shortfalls), we sought to appoint Cho for his expertise in 5G technology and Choi for his knowhow in the related field," Yoon Do-han, senior secretary to the president for public relations, said.
The departures of the two leaves five minister-nominees named in the latest Cabinet reshuffle, including venture minister-nominee Park Young-sun and health minister-nominee Chin Young.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) expressed its opposition against all seven minister nominees, including Park and Chin, both incumbent lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party (DP).
The opposition-controlled parliament has not published reports on the outcome of the nominees' separate confirmation hearings held earlier in the month.
The president may appoint new ministers without the parliament's endorsement, but such a move often leads to a political strife down the road.
Transportation minister-nominee Choi Jeong-ho (Yonhap)
Political parties offered mixed assessments of Moon's decision.
The ruling DP and the progressive Justice Party said that Cheong Wa Dae's latest announcement reflected public sentiment.
"The president would have had deep thoughts, but we respect his decision to make a early call," said DP spokesman Lee Hae-sik. "Since it is a decision that considered the public sentiment and views, the parliament now needs to join hands to deal with other issues for the public."
The LKP and minor Bareunmirae Party and Party for Democracy and Peace criticized the move and asked for a sincere apology from the presidential office.
"Cheong Wa Dae knows better than anyone else that its minister nominees are not qualified for the job," LKP's floor spokesman, Lee Yang-soo, said. "The latest action is a move to cut its losses."(Yonhap)
Kim Jung-mi firstname.lastname@example.org
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