Parliament calls SMEs minister nominee 'unfit' in hearing report

By Yonhap
  • Published : Sept 13, 2017 - 16:38
  • Updated : Sept 13, 2017 - 17:20

A parliamentary panel on Wednesday adopted a negative assessment of the SMEs and startups minister nominee after a grueling confirmation hearing, passing the ball of decision on his fate to President Moon Jae-in's court.

The committee called engineering professor Park Seong-jin unfit in its report, citing his controversial religious and historical views and allegations of past misdeeds.

The publication of the report is seen as a formality as a ministerial appointment does not require the National Assembly's consent. But it remains unclear whether Moon will press ahead with his appointment amid objections even from within the ruling party ranks.

This photo, taken Sept. 11, 2017, shows SMEs and Startups Minister nominee Park Seong-jin attending a parliamentary confirmation hearing at the National Assembly in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Since Moon tapped the 48-year-old professor at Pohang University of Science and Technology, to lead the newly minted ministry last month, criticism has raged over his past remarks and publications.

One of the disputed remarks was that South Korea was founded in 1948, a view strongly advocated by the ousted former leader Park Geun-hye. Moon insists the national foundation dates back to 1919, when Korea's provisional government was established in Shanghai during Japan's colonial rule.

Park was also attacked over his past activity as a member of the Korea Association for Creation Research, an entity that some argue denies evolution theory and specializes in creation science. 

The nominee has also come under fire for tax evasion in 2015, for which he apologized during his hearing Monday.

Opposition parties' disapproval of Park put the presidential office on edge and they escalated calls for overhauling the personnel vetting process.

"We don't have any comments to make right now... We will watch the situation for the time being," a presidential official told Yonhap News Agency over the phone, declining to be named.

Since Moon's inauguration in May, personnel issues have continued to bedevil him.

The president's previous picks for the justice and labor ministers, and a court justice designate, renounced their nominations amid public disapproval. Two top security and science officials also bowed out amid controversies over their qualifications. (Yonhap)