President Moon Jae-in named You Young-min, former minister of science and ICT, as his new chief of staff, Cheong Wa Dae announced Thursday.
You replaces Moon’s longest-serving chief of staff, Noh Young-min, who resigned the previous day after a two-year stint to give the president fresh momentum as he enters his fifth year in office.
On Wednesday, three top aides offered their resignations as the Moon administration faces harsh criticism over the nation’s slow COVID-19 vaccine procurement plans and controversy over the recent disciplinary action against the top prosecutor. The others were Kim Sang-jo, the president’s chief of staff for policy, and Kim Jong-ho, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs.
The president decided to tap Shin Hyun-soo, a former career prosecutor and a ranking official at the National Intelligence Office, as the new secretary for civil affairs, while retaining Kim Sang-jo.
Upon the announcement, the new chief of staff said he is assuming a heavy responsibility at a very grave time with the COVID-19 situation and the economy.
You promised to operate the Cheong Wa Dae team productively and effectively, through “integration and adjustment.”
He also pledged to assist the president by diligently listening to the public sentiment and relaying it to Moon.
You is a 70-year-old software expert who served as Moon’s inaugural science minister between 2017 and 2019. Previously, he was part of Moon’s presidential election campaign, spearheading his digital media campaign.
You entered politics in 2016 when Moon recruited him to run in the parliamentary election on the Democratic Party of Korea ticket in a constituency in Busan, which is You’s hometown and Moon’s political hometown. He ran for the same seat in 2016 and 2020, but was defeated both times.
You has three decades of experience in the corporate sector, having served as executive director of LG Electronics, vice president of LG CNS and chief operating officer of Posco ICT.
Shin, who studied law at Seoul National University, most recently worked as a lawyer at leading law firm Kim & Chang, after his stint as the spy agency’s planning and coordination division chief.
Shin was part of President Moon’s election campaign in 2017 and also served as an aide to the late former President Roh Moo-hyun.
In announcing Shin’s appointment, the outgoing chief of staff Noh Young-min hopes Shin, with his experience of leading reform at the spy agency, will stably complete the President’s push for the reform of prosecution and the powerful state agencies.
The president, however, decided to keep Kim Sang-jo, his chief policy secretary, saying it is not the right time to replace him, given a number of pending issues that include another round of disaster relief funds and COVID-19 prevention, according to a Cheong Wa Dae official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
With 1 1/2 year left in Moon’s single five-year term, the president hopes to tighten the grip on state affairs with the latest reshuffle and jack up approval ratings that hit an all-time low in the 30-percent range recently.
Multiple factors have attributed to the decline in ratings, observers say, including policy failures to curb housing prices, belated procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and a monthslong political tug-of-war between the top prosecutor and justice minister, coupled with public fatigue as the country grapples with the third wave of the coronavirus.
By Ahn Sung-mi (email@example.com