A couple months ago, Yoon Jeon-Choo, a personal trainer who has worked with celebrities like Jeon Ji-hyun and Han Ye-seul, was brought to the spotlight when it was discovered that she had been working as a high-level official in the Park administration since it launched in February 2013. Yoon, 34, who has no administrative or political experience, was reportedly the youngest official in history to hold a grade 3-level position, just one rank below the vice-ministerial level. According to the administration, Yoon was hired to perform administrative tasks such as handling civil complaints and dealing with public relations.

A few days ago, Yoon’s appointment once again came into question when a local report released information that the presidential office had spent nearly 100 million won ($95,265) to purchase equipment necessary to build a Pilates studio. Rep. Choi Min-hee of the opposition party, New Politics Alliance for Democracy, accused the President of “set[ting] up a Pilates studio to keep the president in good shape. That raises suspicions that Yoon was hired to keep the president fit and not serve on her administrative staff.” The equipment was reportedly purchased in February and March 2013, right after Yoon had been hired. In response to the report, officials reiterated that Yoon was hired to perform administrative work, though they added that she sometimes serves as an assistant to perform duties for Park such as helping the President with her wardrobe overseas. The office maintains that there are no legal and ethical problems with Yoon’s appointment.

This is not the first time that Park’s appointment decisions have raised questions from the public and government officials. The President has been questioned in the past for hiring Korean-American actor and comedian Johnny Yune as the auditor of the Korean Tourism Organization despite critics’  concerns of his lack of qualifications. Her selection last month of businesswoman Kim Sung-joo as president of the Korean Red Cross has also raised questions. When Kim was appointed to the position, the first time someone was chosen from the business sector, critics questioned her commitment to social welfare when it was revealed that she hadn’t paid her Red Cross dues for the past five years. Park’s Chief of Staff, Kim Ki-choon, is also a highly controversial political figure due to his connections with the previous dictatorial regime that ruled in Korea from 1963 to 1979, and former presidential spokesperson Yoon Chang-jung was caught in a sex scandal for sexually assaulting an intern while accompanying Park to Washington D.C.

Is this a misuse of funding and public trust, or just an overblown situation by the opposition and media? Let us know what you think below!

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  1. Jerry says:

    I think the opposition should focus their attention on something other than a woman who was hired to do a job that someone else was more qualified to do. If that’s all the opposition can come up with…then President Park is doing a fantastic job! My understanding from reading this news story is that Ms Yoon is multi tasked with jobs and does a very good job at it. Something corporations look for in workers is can they do more than their job scope.

    1. Sam Lim says:

      The accusation Rep. Choi is making isn’t that Yoon is doing more than her job scope. The accusation is that Yoon is not doing what she was officially hired to do and is doing something else instead. If the administration came out and said that Yoon was Park’s personal trainer, there wouldn’t be a potential trust issue. Obviously these are just accusations, but if true, it’s a violation of public trust to hire somebody for a certain purpose when they weren’t actually hired to do that job.

      Also, this is not a summary of the opposition’s criticisms against Park, it covers one criticism that came to light last week. You might have heard of a ferry sinking on April 16; Park’s approval rating dropped from 71% to 51% a week after the disaster. So that’s probably the opposition’s biggest criticism if I had to hazard a guess. The Korail strikes in December were a big issue too.