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[Newsmaker] Education nominee generates mixed reactions

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Published : 2014-07-16 21:30
Updated : 2014-07-16 21:54

Former Saenuri Party chairman and pro-Park Geun-hye heavyweight Rep. Hwang Woo-yea is generating mixed reactions as President Park continues to struggle with her personnel selections.

Past precedents indicate that Hwang will not face much trouble in passing the parliamentary confirmation hearing. So far, no lawmaker tapped for a Cabinet position has been blocked by the hearings.

However, his track record is raising ire among the opposition parties.

The five-term lawmaker’s tenure as the ruling party leader has received mixed assessments. 
Hwang Woo-yea

Despite his outwardly easygoing nature, he is reputed to have a “highly strategic mind.” During his term, he successfully led the introduction of clauses collectively known as the “National Assembly Advancement Act” to the National Assembly Act despite strong resistance from conservative hard-liners.

Regardless of his past exploits, the former judge has been accused of lacking leadership skills. Critics have accused Hwang of being overly mindful of the president, while hard-liners considered him to be too weak and said he allowed the party to be “dragged around” by the opposition.

Regardless of how he is assessed as a party leader, the ruling party welcomed his nomination, highlighting his experience on the parliamentary education committee.

According to Hwang, he has spent 18 of his years in the National Assembly on the education committee.

The opposition bloc, however, met the news with concerns about the Park Geun-hye administration’s will to implement education reform and Hwang’s involvement in education-related developments in the past.

“In 2007, as the chairman of the education committee, he opposed revising the Private School Act to prevent corruption in academia,” New Politics Alliance for Democracy spokesman Rep. Yoo Ki-hong said Wednesday. Yoo also said that Hwang had supported history textbooks by Kyohak Publishing Co. that allegedly had pro-Japanese views, and that he had backtracked on the promise to lower tuition fees while serving as the defunct Grand National Party’s floor leader.

“Most of all, Hwang failed to show results nor display his will regarding education reform while working on the education committee. It is worrisome that (Hwang) will be concerned more with maintaining the status quo rather than fundamentally reforming education issues.”

The minor opposition Unified Progressive Party immediately called for his nomination to be retracted, tying up the issue with those surrounding the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union.

Claiming Hwang’s nomination to be politically motivated, the UPP accused the president of regarding the Education Ministry as “a ministry that should be used and controlled for political purposes.”

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)

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