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[Editorial] For a flying start

Transition team must beware of impatience, overenthusiasm, reflect diversity on policies

President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol launched his transition team and presided over its first meeting Friday. It was launched pretty quickly. Just eight days passed after he won the presidential election.

Until May 9, it will sort out major issues for the Yoon administration to deal with and review Yoon’s election pledges intensively and modify them if needed. Among its core tasks are reorganizing the government and forming the Cabinet.

The team is comprised of 24 members in seven subcommittees.

Thirteen of them are graduates of Seoul National University. Their average age is 57.6. Twenty members are male and four are female. Twelve members are professors and six are incumbent lawmakers. Half of them are from Seoul, and there are two each from North Gyeongsang Province, South Gyeongsang Province and Busan. Twelve members are in their 50s, 10 in their 60s and two in their 40s. The team lacks diversity in terms of gender, occupation, academic background and regional and generational distribution. Yoon claimed to have put high priority on competence and experience in selecting its members.

Few would oppose the view that if someone is excellent in ability and professionalism, such factors as which school he or she graduated from and where he or she comes from are not important. It is absurd to staff an organization by mechanically sticking to representative proportions in terms of school, region and gender. But considering its bias to Seoul National University, Seoul and men, the team needs to take extra care on such issues as gender conflicts, regional strife and demands by young people in their 20s and 30s.

The Yoon administration will be able to get off to a flying start only if the team addresses a spate of issues well in its five-year blueprint for the administration. The immediate challenge is an explosive increase of COVID-19 infections. The team has much to do to set directions on social distancing, critical cases and at-home treatment.

Real estate prices are one of the toughest problems the Yoon administration will face. They are showing signs of rising again after the presidential election, with expectations mounting for the relaxation of redevelopment and reconstruction and the easing of property taxes. Skyrocketing home prices are one of the biggest failures of the current administration. If this problem is not solved, the five years of the new government will not be smooth either.

Diplomatic and security issues are urgent, too. North Korea is stubbornly test-firing what appears to be a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile. One of the most pressing agendas for Korea is to restore the US alliance shaken under the Moon administration. It is not an easy job to establish relations with China that is competing with the US for hegemony.

Policy failures of the Moon administration undermined a wide array of state affairs and yet the team must refrain from getting ahead of themselves to fix them all at once. Yoon and his transition team must beware impatience and excessive enthusiasm. The team will have to prioritize his pledges, review them and focus on the most realistic ones.

If they find some of Yoon’s pledges impossible to realize or in need of modification, they should tell people honestly and ask for their understanding. The team will also have to listen to critics and opponents. If they don’t, Yoon will be cut off from people and his administration will likely follow in the footsteps of its predecessor.

By Korea Herald (khnews@heraldcorp.com)
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