Kim Eun-kyung is the first ex-minister of the Moon Jae-in administration to be indicted.
Prosecutors cleared of charges Cho Kuk, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, and others involved in the alleged surveillance of civilians by a Cheong Wa Dae special inspection team. They include former presidential chief of staff Im Jong-seok, Park Hyung-cheol, presidential secretary for anti-corruption, and Lee In-geol, ex-chief of the special inspection team.
Kim and former presidential secretary Shin Mi-kyung allegedly pressured a standing auditor of Korea Environment Corp., who had been appointed by the previous administration, to resign in February last year, and sought to get a pro-government person surnamed Park to replace him.
When Park did not pass the document screening, Korea Environment Corp. rejected everyone who had been interviewed and posted a job opening again.
Park, a former member of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation, was appointed in September last year as the chief of a company that a ministry-affiliated agency had invested in.
Prosecutors suspect that Shin exerted undue influence as she demanded then-Vice Environment Minister Ahn Byung-ok to explain why Park was eliminated, and reprimanded Ahn.
The investigation into alleged irregularities at the Environment Ministry began four months ago, after a former investigator told the press that while working for the special inspection team in January last year, he had received a document from the ministry on how executives of affiliated agencies were tendering their resignations following the change of government in 2017.
The document listing 24 executives of eight agencies said the resignations were being tendered “without any unrest, except for K-eco.”
In December, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party had filed a complaint with the prosecution against ex-Minister Kim, presidential secretary Park and special inspection team chief Lee, accusing the presidential office of driving out people appointed by the previous Park Geun-hye administration in order to replace them.
By Kim So-hyun (email@example.com)