Choi quizzed over creative economy

2013-04-01 : 16:54

By Jun Ji-hye


Choi Mun-kee, minister nominee for Science, ICT and Future Planning

Lawmakers questioned Choi Mun-kee, President Park Geun-hye’s nominee for the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP), about how he intends to realize the goal of a “creative economy” at his National Assembly confirmation hearing, Monday.

Nurturing a creative economy is the central piece of President Park’s economic policy aimed at producing jobs through the development of science and communication technologies.

At the hearing, however, lawmakers were concerned that the concept and the phrase itself were too vague.

Rep. Kim Han-gil of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) asked if it was feasible to achieve this kind of economy, given the level of ambiguity that is in the plan.

“Even the ruling Saenuri Party does not seem to fully understand the meaning of the phrase. You should provide easy explanations from now on so that the public can understand it,” Kim said.

Cho Hae-jin of the ruling party also expressed concern, saying, “The initial plans regarding the science ministry have been changed a lot as negotiations on the government restructuring bill took more than 50 days.”

Choi responded that he will try to accomplish the original aims by “displaying his creativity” to persuade lawmakers.

Assemblymen also questioned the 61-year-old about allegations of ethical misconduct.

Lee Seok-ki of the minor Unified Progressive Party pointed out that Choi served as a nonexecutive director or auditor for six companies while working as a professor at the state-run Information and Communications University (ICU) from 2002 to 2006.

“He violated the National Public Service Law prohibiting the holding of more than one job,” Lee said.

In response, Choi explained, “It was not to make a profit, but to support venture businesses. I worked for free for the first three years, and then I obtained permission (to work for other companies) from the president of the university.”

Rep. Noh Woong-rae of the DUP also claimed the IT expert maintained a “special relation” with KT (Korea Telecom) from 2002 and enjoyed financial benefits from the company, including receiving hundreds of millions of won a year while serving as an auditor for an in-company venture.

Noh said, “I doubt if he can create fair policies because the ministry has to cope with KT in the future to push forward various businesses.”

Choi denied having any personal relationship with KT.