President Moon (L) and You Young-min (R) (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in has tapped You Young-min, a former science and technology minister, as his new chief of staff, Cheong Wa Dae announced Thursday.
You, known for his IT expertise from decades of experience in a related corporate sector, is succeeding Noh Young-min, who tendered his resignation the previous day following a two-year stint.
Noh was quoted as saying that he wants to leave room for fresh momentum in Moon's presidency, which is facing a host of challenges from housing market instability to the troubled COVID-19 response.
You said in a press statement that he is assuming the post at a "very grave time," citing the pandemic and the people's livelihoods.
He pledged efforts for "productive and effective" operation of his Cheong Wa Dae team via "integration and adjustment."
You served as minister of science and ICT from 2017-2019, having helped Moon's presidential campaign as head of his digital communication team.
Moon recruited You to the ruling Democratic Party ahead of the 2016 parliamentary elections, in which he was defeated.
After majoring in mathematics at Pusan National University in the southern port city of Busan, You started his career in LG Electronics' computing division in 1979. He moved to LG CNS, a system integration-providing affiliate of LG Group, as vice president in 2004 and then led South Korea's software promotion agency for two years.
The president also named Shin Hyun-soo, a former career prosecutor and ranking official at the National Intelligence Service, as senior secretary for civil affairs and justice.
Shin is replacing Kim Jong-ho, who also offered to resign apparently to take responsibility for confusion linked with the justice ministry's controversial disciplinary measure, approved by the president, against Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl.
Shin is the first official with a prosecution career to take up the Cheong Wa Dae job under the Moon administration.
He worked with Moon for 1 1/2 years from February 2004 at Cheong Wa Dae, with both as aides to then President Roh Moo-hyun.
Moon, however, rejected a resignation offer by Kim Sang-jo, a top Cheong Wa Dae official in charge of policy issues. Kim's formal job title is chief of staff to the president for policy.
Moon said it is not the time to replace Kim, given a number of pending issues, including another round of disaster relief fund handouts and coronavirus control, according to a Cheong Wa Dae official who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity.
Observers view Moon's choice of You and Shin and his decision to keep Kim in his post as reflecting the pursuit of stability during the remainder of his tenure.
Moon, who's entering his fifth year in office, is seeking to start afresh, as his approval ratings have been on the decline in recent months.
Many agree that waning public support for him is mainly attributable to the government's failure to curb home price and rent hikes in Seoul and other major cities. The Moon administration is also under criticism that it has failed to secure supplies of coronavirus vaccines swiftly. (Yonhap)