President Park Geun-hye on Thursday removed the education and culture ministers from office in a rare decision feared to cause a temporary vacuum in state affairs.
Cheong Wa Dae said that Park has informed Education Minister Seo Nam-soo and Culture Minister Yoo Jin-ryong of their dismissals early in the morning.
The announcement came a day after former Culture Minister-designate Chung Sung-keun withdrew his nomination on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Park also withdrew her nomination of former Education Minister-designate Kim Myung-soo and named Rep. Hwang Woo-yea, former chairman of the ruling Saenuri Party, as his replacement.
Kicking out Seo and Yoo before their successors are ready to take their posts is being viewed as an exceptional case.
There have been a few cases of a president approving the resignation of ministers who declared bids to run for general or gubernatorial elections. But Park seems to be the first president to remove incumbent ministers who have no particular intention to leave immediately, according to sources.
The presidential office is reportedly trying to pressure the National Assembly to quickly endorse Park’s nomination of Hwang and a culture minister nominee who is yet to be named.
But concerns are growing over a delay in state affairs as the two ministerial posts are likely to remain vacant at least for a month.
New Education Minister nominee Hwang has to go through a parliamentary confirmation hearing. President Park also needs to find a new suitable candidate for culture minister to put an end to her prolonged nomination debacles and complete the reshuffle of the Cabinet.
Last month, Park carried out a major Cabinet reshuffle, replacing seven ministers and a spy agency chief. The latest Cabinet shake-up was viewed as an attempt by Park to regain public support and push for reforms in the aftermath of the Sewol disaster.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org)