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More on the Kim Jeong-hun controversy

For English speakers, the Hankyoreh has a translation of much of the criticism being leveled at science and technology minister-designate Kim Jeong-hoon. I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised that it’s Lee Seok-ki who’s leading the charge, and it’s an irony not missed by Korea’s conservative dailies.

The Hankyoreh also talks about how patriotic Kim is… as an American. According to the report, he can’t even speak Korean properly.

The Chosun Ilbo and Dong-A Ilbo gave pretty spirited defenses of Kim in their editorials today, with the Dong-A essentially asking, “Who’s a bigger patriot? The guy who made something of himself in America and come back to serve the motherland? Or the guy who won’t sing the Korean national anthem and won’t say a thing about the North Korean nuclear test?” Also lots of the usual “it’s a borderless world” stuff, with the Chosun noting that even if he did work for the CIA, so what? Americans want to work for the CIA, and they’re proud to have “adviser for the CIA” on their record.

Fair dinkums, but in its editorial, the Hankyoreh also makes some good points. Sure, it’s a borderless world now, and you can think of several foreigners who have served Korea successfully, including the American guy who served as head of the Korean weather service. Those guys, however, didn’t work for the CIA—and the Hani thinks his activities for the CIA are rather extensive. No matter how close Korea and the US are as allies, their interests don’t always coincide, so you’ve got to have a guy you know will take your side. And yes, the Hani mentioned Jonathan Pollard and Robert Kim, both of whom caused diplomatic headaches even thought the countries they helped were close US allies. Anyway, it’s a rather curious choice for a guy who will be in charge of a key government ministry.

In another piece, the Hani quotes a Myongji professor who notes, quite sensibly IMHO, that naming Kim could cause diplomatic problems with the United States since it’s possible that Kim came into contact with information pertaining to US national security. I’m glad he said that because honestly, I’m not sure how comfortable I am as an American with Kim becoming science minister. As the Dong-A said in its editorial defending Kim, China began its space program by hiring lots of Chinese scientists residing in America, asking them neither about ideology or party affiliation. Which is great if you’re China (or in this case, Korea). Not so cool if you’re America.

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  • wangkon936

    Ah, gyopos. Everyone’s favorite fifth column.

  • m0tbaillie

    Former US Naval Officer and submariner (therefore, nuclear-qualified and privy to quite a bit of TS-level information by default) potentially renouncing his citizenship to become a minister of science and technology in South Korea? Oh man, I can only imagine the debrief the State Department is gonna wanna give this guy….

  • SomeguyinKorea

    How old is this guy? Well into middle-age, right? Most of the classified information he would have had access to would be outdated. Trust me. When I served, I had a secret clearance because I was trained to operate of what was the most advanced defense system of its kind…nearly 20 years ago. Nothing I know would be of use today.

  • RolyPoly

    He can be the next AhnChulSoo. He may become the next president of Korea. And, Korea needs a leader like him. One with international vision.

  • que337

    Too bad he is leaving. Could have given him an opportunity to serve for SK.