Appointed Special Advisor, Seok-Yeol Yoon and Bae-Yong Lee… Pro-Japanese beautification controversy

President-elect Yoon Seok-yeol announced on the 24th that Lee Bae-yong, former president of Ewha Womans University (pictured), was appointed as a special advisor. Park Min-sik and former lawmakers Kwon Taek-ki were appointed as special assistants.

Kim Eun-hye, a spokeswoman for the elected president, announced the appointment at the press conference of the Samcheong-dong transition committee on the morning of the same day, saying, “The direction is in line with the Yoon Seok-yeol administration.” Spokesperson Kim explained the reason for the appointment, saying, “He is a historian and educator who has continued his vigorous research activities in academia.”

He said, “He has diverse and in-depth experiences and years of experience in all fields, both in the education and in women’s circles. The direction is consistent with the Yun Seok Passion Government, which is the standard for the project.”

Former President Lee served as chairman of the Presidential Brand Committee, President of Kopion, and President of the Central Research Institute for Korean Studies, and is currently serving as a chair professor at Youngsan University. During the 2012 presidential election, he served as chairman of the central election committee of the Park Geun-hye camp. During the presidential election, he compared candidate Park Geun-hye to Queen Seon-deok and helped former President Park win the election.

Former President Lee has been criticized for glorifying pro-Japanese factions such as Dr. Hwa-ran Kim, who was named in the pro-Japanese dictionary in his book. He described ‘Empress Myeongseong’ as ‘Minbi’ and was criticized harshly in a letter of appreciation from the government. He once became an issue by defending the textbooks on the history of education, which caused controversy due to errors in the description of the comfort women in the Japanese military.

Correspondent Ko Eun-i koko@hankyung.com

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