The following is the last in a series of articles on the major tasks and key members of President-elect Park Geun-hye’s transition team. ― Ed.
The special committee on young people aims to serve as the main outlet for President-elect Park Geun-hye’s engagement with those in their 20s and 30s, popularly known as the 2030 generation.
The committee is assigned the task of implementing Park’s campaign pledges directed towards the youth, such as job creation and cutting college tuition costs.
“(The special committee) is a committee that reflects the President-elect’s consideration of the young people,” said Kim Sang-min, the head of the committee, in a radio interview last month.
“President-elect Park will personally look after the issues that the young generation faces today, such as half-priced college tuition, housing for the young, and job creation.”
Kim, 40, a first-term lawmaker, was the student council president at Ajou University, where he studied history. Upon graduation, Kim led a college student volunteer organization called ‘Volunteer Expedition.’
The Saenuri Party tapped Kim as a proportional representative ― seats in the National Assembly that are not directly elected, but distributed to each party based on the number of seats won ― ahead of the April parliamentary elections last year after an extensive search process called ‘the project to find people with moving stories.’
Kim is a member of a group within the Saenuri Party that is dedicated to realizing economic democratization by strengthening oversight of chaebol, or family-owned conglomerations.
A familiar face among the members of the committee is Kolleen Park, a Korean American musical director and TV personality. Park, 46, first made her name as the sound director of the hit musical “The Last Empress” in 1995.
Park became a household name after appearing on popular TV shows. She sat as a judge in the cable channel tvN’s “Korea’s Got Talent” and also directed an amateur choir on the hit entertainment show “Qualifications of a Man” produced by KBS in 2011.
The launch of the committee, however, was briefly undermined by some of the members’ contentious pasts.
One of them is Youn Sang-kyu, the CEO of Neowiz Games, the nation’s leading computer software company. Youn, 42, has been accused by the Fair Trade Commission, a government regulator, of making unfair deals with subcontractors.
In one deal, Youn’s company reportedly took in over 99 percent of the profit produced from a subcontracting software company.
Youn is expected to take part in shaping the Park administration’s policy regarding the computer game and IT industry.
Another controversial figure in the committee is Ha Ji-won, the president of Ecomom Korea, an environmental organization. Ha, 44, has been convicted of taking bribes during her tenure as a city council member.
Ha has led various environmental activities with the theme of instigating small changes in everyday life that would lead to larger changes in the environment. Ha has been the co-president of Climate Action Partnership, an environmental organization that resists climate change.
Perhaps the lesser known, but the more representative committee member of the 2030 generation is Jeong Hyeon-ho, 25, who was the student council president at Hanyang University and also a senior leader at a nationwide organization of university student councils.
Jeong made his name through repeated appearances in debates concerning rising college tuition, becoming a vocal advocate of cutting college tuition in half. Jeong is seen as a figure that can represent many of the cash-strapped college students struggling to pay their tuition.
The special committee on young people held a conference on Sunday at the National Assembly, inviting nearly 100 former and current university student council presidents from nationwide, to discuss ways to cut college tuition and create jobs.
By Samuel Songhoon Lee (email@example.com)