President Moon Jae-in's administration is facing growing criticism for allegedly "parachuting" his former assistant secretaries into private financial companies as senior executives.
Han Jung-won, a former assistant secretary for political affairs, was recently named the head of brand strategy at Meritz Financial Group, a mid-tier holding company.
She is expected to oversee the brand management of the group's securities and insurance units
|Han Jung-won / Captured image from SBS News|
Even though the state ethics committee said it had found no problem with the two crossing over to the private sector, they have been facing negative press and doubts over their credentials over the past couple of days.
Besides the administration getting attacked for such parachute appointments, which Moon had vowed to do away with during his election campaign, opposition lawmakers are highlighting that the two people who got the jobs in finance have absolutely zero experience in the field.
Han, 39, worked as a former broadcast news reporter for SBS who covered Moon's presidential campaign before she was hired as assistant secretary in 2017. She was an economics reporter before this.
Hwang, a former lawmaker of the Democratic Party of Korea, also worked for Moon's campaign.
"It is very doubtful whether Han would be fit for a position the company created just for her as she has practically no experience in finance," said Rep. Kim Hyun-ah of the Liberty Korea Party (LKP).
And the same goes for Hwang, who does not know a thing about corporate debt restructuring, the LKP said.
Therefore, it added the incumbent administration clearly used its influence to secure them the jobs.
As the controversy grows, Meritz said it had "offered" Han the position; and Uamco said its shareholders will have the final say on Hwang's appointment at the end of the month.
Uamco's shareholders include Shinhan, KB Kookmin, KEB Hana, Woori and NongHyup banks, according to its audit filing. The state-run Korea Development Bank and Export-Import Bank of Korea are also shareholders.
Industry sources say it's rare to see former Cheong Wa Dae workers directly getting senior executive jobs in the private sector.
"There have been cases where regulators got jobs at financial companies. That is being somewhat restricted nowadays. The latest case is not very common as far as I know," an industry source said.