President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Friday that presidential office personnel should focus on policy matters rather than uncovering irregularities or confidential information on people.
Speaking to reporters as he arrived at work, Yoon defended the establishment of a personnel vetting division under the justice ministry when asked about the issue, noting that the U.S. operates a similar system.
The new division will be tasked with vetting candidates for senior government posts including the Cabinet, a responsibility previously undertaken by the office of the presidential secretary for civil affairs, which was abolished by Yoon.
The main opposition Democratic Party is concerned the move will give excessive power to justice minister Han Dong-hoon, a close confidante to President Yoon.
In a bid to address such criticism, Yoon's office on Wednesday issued a press release similar to the president's remarks made Friday.
Yoon said the presidential office should not be directly involved in collecting information on public officials, but rather receive the information in order to scrutinize candidates objectively.
In the U.S., the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is under the Justice Department, conducts an initial vetting of candidates and submits a report to the White House.