President Park Geun-hye on Thursday appointed four senior secretaries as part of her reshuffle aimed at repairing the image of the government in the aftermath of the Sewol ferry disaster.
Park named Minister of Gender Equality Cho Yoon-sun senior secretary for political affairs, Rep. Ahn Chong-bum of the ruling Saenuri Party senior secretary for economic affairs, and former senior prosecutor Kim Young-han senior secretary for civil affairs. Song Gwang-yong, former president of Seoul National University of Education, was named senior secretary in charge of education and culture.
“President Park Geun-hye has named new senior secretaries of political, economic and civil affairs, as well as education and culture, to push ahead with state reform measures and agendas, including the three-year economic innovation plan,” said presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook. Top presidential aides are not subject to parliamentary hearings.
Of the four designates, Minister Cho and Rep. Ahn are key aides who supported Park during her presidential campaign. Cho served as spokeswoman for Park’s campaign team while Ahn played a crucial role in drafting her campaign pledges.
“Cho has broad experience in the National Assembly, the (Saenuri) party and the government. She is expected to play a crucial role in mediating between the government and the assembly through her delicate sense as a woman and her sociability,” Min said.
Min also hailed Rep. Ahn as the “right man to bring the nation economic prosperity” by leading the three-year economic reform project proposed by Park in January.
Ahn, a former economics professor at Sungkyunkwan University, is known as “Park’s idea man” as he succeeded in fleshing out campaign pledges for the economy and welfare based on Park’s political philosophy. He was elected to the National Assembly in 2012 by proportional representation.
Kim, the new senior secretary for civil affairs, has served in various posts in the prosecution and was a senior prosecutor at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office before his retirement. He is believed to have set discipline in public offices in the wake of the ferry disaster, the spokesman said. Min also presented Song, Park’s new top education and culture aide, as an expert on education and administrative affairs, and said he is expected to support “educational reform and cultural prosperity.”
Following the replacement of presidential aides, the president is also expected to conduct a massive Cabinet reshuffle within this week.
Park, meanwhile, decided to keep Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon, her long-time aide, who has been criticized for exercising too much power behind the scenes.
Park has been under pressure to abandon Kim, who has been attacked for making a series of unsuccessful nominations and relying heavily on his network of prosecutors and judges. Kim, a former justice minister, is the head of the presidential committee for personnel affairs.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org)