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Concerns growing over 'parachute appointments' in finance.

The Moon Jae-in administration is expected to speed up appointments at its state-run financial enterprises, following the announcement of new chief executives at two key policy banks.

After the Financial Services Commission (FSC) named Lee Dong-gull as the new chief executive of the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB), the finance ministry named Eun Sung-soo as CEO of the Export-Import Bank of Korea (Eximbank).

Lee was a visiting professor at Dongguk University. Eun was the chief executive of the Korea Investment Corp., a sovereign wealth fund.

"Eun is a finance professional. He is the right person to provide solutions to corporate debt restructuring and export financing," the finance ministry said in a press statement.

The announcements came a day after the President approved FSC Chairman Choi Jong-ku's recommendation for Choe Heung-sik, CEO of Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, to be the new governor of the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS).

Observers say with the top brass in place, they will most likely appoint new heads of other companies that fall under the management jurisdiction of the regulator and the finance ministry by next month.

Such companies include the Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK), Korea Housing Finance Corp. (KHF), Korea Asset Management Corp. (KAMCO) and Korea Deposit Insurance Corp. (KDIC). There are reports that KAMCO CEO Moon Chan-yong and IBK CEO Kim Do-jin may maintain their position since they got two years left in their term.

Replacing them would raise some questions on whether the Moon administration seeks to seat people within his circle of influence.

Some are raising concerns over Lee and Eun, and even the FSS governor and the FSC chairman, criticizing them as "parachute appointments" by Jang Ha-sung, presidential chief of staff for policy.

They are connected through their education background, one of main criteria considered for relationship building here. Also, Lee and Eun previously worked with former President Roh Moo-hyun.

Jang went to the same high school with FSS governor Choe and KDB CEO Lee. FSC Chairman Choi went to the same college as Jang.

Lee and Eun are connected to Fair Trade Commission Chairman Kim Sang-jo. They graduated from Seoul National University with an economics degree.

Jang and Kim are dubbed as "chaebol snipers" as they have been the two main pillars of activism for corporate reform.

Both worked with the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, the country's leading civic group. Jang led the initiative of the Korea Corporate Governance Fund, dubbed "Jang Ha-sung fund" back in 2006.

It remains to be seen whether other state financial companies will appoint someone with connections to the President and Jang. President Moon has pledged not to name executives by looking at their connections, but their skills and experience.

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Publication:The Korea Times News (Seoul, Korea)
Date:Sep 8, 2017
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