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Public Safety Ministry may close in reorganization

As the new administration’s government reorganization plans take shape, South Korea’s Ministry of Public Safety and Security is facing a shutdown, three years after its establishment in 2014.

The plans would see the Ministry of Interior absorbing the Public Safety Ministry’s role as the country’s disaster response control tower.

Ministry of Public Safety and Security (Yonhap)
Ministry of Public Safety and Security (Yonhap)

The Moon Jae-in administration is scheduled to hold its first high-level meeting with the ruling Democratic Party of Korea on Monday, with government restructuring plans at the top of the agenda. The proposal reportedly pushes for giving more clout to main agencies under the Public Safety Ministry, such as the National Emergency Management and the Korea Coast Guard.

The state’s fire agency, which has been a part of the National Emergency Management, will also receive its own desk following the decision.

The meeting is expected to draw conclusions for the reorganization proposal that will be submitted to the parliament.

The blueprint revolves around President Moon Jae-in’s vow to build a disaster control tower around Cheong Wa Dae to bolster the government’s risk and crisis management capabilities.

The Ministry of Public Safety and Security was established in 2014 in the wake of the Sewol ferry disaster. It is the first governmental organization specialized in public safety and security, and was established under the Park Geun-hye administration.

The ousted president, currently occupied with a series of hearings and trials, took flak over the questionable handling of the Sewol ferry disaster. The Korea Coast Guard, once an external branch of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, was also held responsible for its handling of the sinking, which eventually led to it being publicly reformed.

Another top priority of the reshuffling plan is to reallocate the task of trade negotiation from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

By Jung Min-kyung (mkjung@heraldcorp.com)
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