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KCDC expands, attains autonomous status

Incumbent director Jung Eun-kyeong to spearhead new, bigger agency

Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Kim Arin/The Korea Herald)
Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Kim Arin/The Korea Herald)

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be bumped up to a higher-level state agency, the Cabinet and legislature said Tuesday.

The decision to promote the public health institution, which will now be called the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, was reached during a plenary session of the National Assembly last week. Previously, it was a branch under the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

With the boosted status, the KCDA is expected to have more autonomy in shaping responses against health threats as well as in leading medical research endeavors. After the revised laws come into effect Saturday, the agency will also be equipped with a bigger staff, expanding 42 percent from the current 907 to 1,476.

The agency, whose headquarters is in Osong, North Chungcheong Province, will have offices in five provinces across the country for coordinating public health efforts in the regions.

Jung Eun-kyeong, who is the KCDC’s sitting director, has been appointed to lead the new agency, President Moon Jae-in said in an announcement Tuesday afternoon.

In a briefing held earlier the same day, Interior Minister Chin Young said that the agency’s makeover was part of “timely changes for tackling health crises such as COVID-19.”

“The reforms are meant to better prepare the country for another wave of infections,” he said.

By Kim Arin (