Science ministry to take on larger role

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jan 22, 2013 - 19:46
  • Updated : Jan 22, 2013 - 19:46
A new super-ministry on science and information technology is expected to grow larger with two vice ministers and by taking over almost all functions related to research, policy, industry and high education in the fields scattered among various government organizations.

The Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry will hand over all of its trade negotiation roles to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, to be renamed Industry, Trade and Resources Ministry, despite its protest.

These and other follow-up measures to President-elect Park Geun-hye’s government reorganization plans were announced Tuesday.

“The plans reflect the governing philosophy and existing problems felt by President-elect Park Geun-hye through her long years of state affairs experience and National Assembly activities. We believe this government reorganization will create an effectively working government through well-distributed functions,” said Chin Young, vice chairman of the transition committee.

Park had unveiled last week the revamp plans which aim for a bigger government with 17 ministries, three lower-level ministries and 17 agencies under the banner of an efficient Cabinet to promote innovation-based growth.

The tentatively named Ministry of Future Creation and Science is expected enjoy vast leeway in promoting far-reaching science-related policies by taking over the roles from the Education Ministry, the Knowledge Economy Ministry and others.

Overall primary and secondary education will remain under the jurisdiction of the Education Ministry while the science-related higher education, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology will come under the Science Ministry.

The vice minister on science and technology will be responsible for the functions of the former Science and Technology Ministry, along with the current Education Ministry’s roles in business-academic cooperation, and the Knowledge Economy Ministry’s promotion of new growth engine.

The vice minister on ICT will oversee the convergence of communications and broadcasting, digital contents, TV and radio advertisements, information security, and culture, currently under other government organizations including the Korea Communications Commission.

But the KCC will continue its job of regulating the broadcasters.

The Korea Post belonging to the Knowledge Economy Ministry will also be transferred to the ministry for the sake of connecting the postal system with communication.

As for the reinstated Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, it will manage harbors, shipping, marine environment, maritime surveys, oceanic resources, and marine science and technology, currently handled by the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs. It will also control fisheries, the fishing industry, development of fishing villages and fisheries distribution.

Both the science ministry and the maritime ministry had been integrated and merged with other ministries under the incumbent Lee Myung-bak administration.

While the Foreign Ministry’s job of trade negotiation will be transferred over to the Industry, Commerce and Resources Ministry, its multilateral and bilateral economic diplomacy and international economic cooperation functions will remain, the team said.

The ministry had been vocal in protesting the incoming president’s decision to split up foreign affairs and trade, citing the importance of diplomatic capacity in trade.

The Korea Food and Drug Administration, which will be elevated to a lower-ministry status, will take over the safety management of food and medical products.

As for the financial sector that has been left out of the reorganization, the team said they will suggest a direction in their overall state road map when change is deemed necessary.

By Lee Joo-hee (