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Presidential office set for shake-up

President Yoon Suk-yeol’s Chief of Staff Kim Dae-ki speaks during a press briefing held Thursday at the presidential office in Yongsan, central Seoul. (Yonhap)
President Yoon Suk-yeol’s Chief of Staff Kim Dae-ki speaks during a press briefing held Thursday at the presidential office in Yongsan, central Seoul. (Yonhap)


The presidential office on Thursday announced plans to add a senior secretary position to the secretariat in a move apparently aimed at strengthening the office‘s policy coordination capabilities.

“As there has been problems of communication with civil affairs and policy agendas, there needs to be a post that helps the presidential office, Cabinet and people to communicate with each other,” President Yoon Suk-yeol’s Chief of Staff Kim Dae-ki said during a press briefing held Thursday at the presidential office in Yongsan, central Seoul.

While multiple news reports have said the Korea International Trade Association vice chair Lee Kwan-sup is likely to be chosen for the post, Kim said he is a “strong candidate.”

“We are in the process of restructuring the organization, and looking for talented personnel. I will talk more on this at a later time,” he said.

Lee, the former head of the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, resigned in 2018 after opposing the Moon administration’s nuclear phase-out policy.

Though Yoon had abolished the office of chief of staff for policy to minimize the size of the presidential office, promising for a “smaller government,” he will likely add some new positions to the presidential office.

Kim Dae-ki stressed even with the newest additions, the secretariat is smaller than that of the past government.

“There are areas that needed to be expanded and reduced. The presidential office will be run as a living organism under the premise of a cut down,” Kim said.

Kim Dae-ki, however, denied news reports regarding the planned changes within the presidential office saying that plans had not been finalized.

Earlier in the day, multiple media reported changes under review citing high-level officials within the Yoon government. According to the reports, Yoon is considering adding a top level post and senior secretary to his secretariat to strengthen his office’s policymaking capabilities. At present, the presidential secretariat consists of two top-level positions -- chief of staff and chief of the National Security Office -- and five senior secretaries.

The reported plans would see the addition of a top-level post to head a tentatively named “office for planning and management.” The post will be on the level of the national security office chief. Someone from the offices of Secretary to the President for Administrative Affairs or Secretary to the President for General Affairs have been discussed for the post.

Kim Dae-ki also revealed that a new senior secretary for public relations will be announced Sunday.

Former lawmaker Kim Eun-hye is said to be one of the leading candidates for the post. Kim Eun-hye served as a spokesperson for Yoon when he was president-elect.

The Chief of Staff did not confirm the appointment, saying “We need to look more into the matter.”

Though it has been only 100 days since taking the office, Yoon has been pushed to the brink of leadership crisis with approval ratings remaining below 30 percent for several weeks. The low approval ratings follow the controversies surrounding personnel appointments of Yoon, the flip-flops over state affair moves and also multiple allegations surrounding first lady Kim Keon-hee which are yet to be resolved.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)

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