[Newsmaker] Ex-leader’s confidant ends long reign

By Kim Yon-se
  • Published : Mar 28, 2013 - 20:31
  • Updated : Mar 28, 2013 - 20:43
Kang Man-soo, who tendered his resignation as chairman of the state-owned KDB Financial Group on Thursday, was a close confidant of former President Lee Myung-bak.

According to lawmakers from the ruling Saenuri Party, the economic policies of the Lee administration were based on the economic studies of Kang and his followers.

He conducted a variety of controversal policies, including a currency devaluation against the U.S. dollar to boost exports, as the first finance minister of the Lee government.
Kang Man-soo

A key economic philosophy of Kang was that Korea should have a mega-bank for international financial competitiveness.

Later, as the state-controlled financial firm chief, Kang continued to reiterate that the nation should “highlight the efficacy of the mega-bank issue as the direction has already been set under state policies.”

But, aside from opposition lawmakers, a group of ruling party lawmakers expressed skepticism about the emergence of a mega-bank and Kang’s economic philosophy.

Downplaying Kang’s philosophy, a lawmaker from the Saenuri Party had said “the proposed merger of the two state-run banks (KDB and Woori) went against the government-led long-term project to privatize the two banks.”

Another Saenuri lawmaker criticized financial authorities’ move to revise banking laws in an apparent bid to give benefits to KDB Financial for its M&A project.

The ruling party lawmakers also criticized the past economic policies of Kang, who was the first finance minister of the Lee administration, for deepening income disparity between the “haves” and “have-nots.”

Kang struck back against the view in the political sector.

“The ruling party is watering down core economic policies of the Lee administration,” he said. “I think the lawmakers are only afraid of the public opinion.”

Some point to easing rules on real estate taxes and reimbursement to consumers for their oil consumption as Kang’s major performances.

By Kim Yon-se (