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Rights head reappointed amid opposition

Rights trade union says 80 percent of country opposes presidential appointment

President Lee (left) gave his appointment certificate to Hyun Byung-chul in 2009 President Lee (left) gave his appointment certificate to Hyun Byung-chul in 2009
  • Stephen Hong, Seoul
  • Korea
  • August 14, 2012
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President Lee Myung-bak reappointed the head of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) this week despite strong opposition.

Civic and human rights groups say Hyun Byung-chul limited the NHRCK’s role in watching over government institutions in his first term. Groups also raised allegations of academic plagiarism, real estate speculation and other ethical lapses.

“Lee intends to ruin the country’s human rights record for another three years,” said Myoung Sook, coordinator of a coalition of 300 rights groups across the country.

In a statement, the coalition said Hyun had worked to obfuscate the administration’s rights violations. His reappointment received criticism from opposition parties as well as from within the ruling Saenuri Party.

"I will take the past criticism in a humble way and try my best to run the NHRCK independently," Hyun said Monday.

The president announced in June his intention to reappoint Hyun for a three-year tenure, saying his commission had played a leading role in protecting human rights since he was appointed as head in 2009.

"Eighty percent of the nation and even most NHRCK members have opposed the reappointment,” the NHRCK’s trade union said.

The union has asked for Hyun's resignation.

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