|From left clock wise are Hyun Oh-seok, Kim Jeong-hoon, Ryoo Kihl-jae, Cho Yoon-seon, Phang Ha-nam and Yoon Seong-kyu. (Yonhap News)|
President-elect Park Geun-hye on Sunday named seasoned technocrat Hyun Oh-seok as finance chief and Korean-American technology entrepreneur Kim Jeong-hoon as science minister.
The presidential transition committee announced the nominees for the remaining 11 ministerial positions including unification, industry and welfare, rounding out the roster for the 18 highest positions in her government.
Hyun, president of the state-run Korea Development Institute, was nominated to head the Ministry of Finance and Strategy and also take on the newly established post of deputy prime minister of economy.
Park tapped Kim, president of Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs and Corporate Strategy, to head her brainchild ministry of science and technology.
The ministry of industry, trade and resources will be headed by Yoon Sang-jick, who is currently serving as the vice minister for industry and technology at the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.
For the revived Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Korea Maritime Institute’s director of marine policy research Yoon Jin-sook has been picked for the top post.
University of North Korean Studies professor Ryoo Kihl-jae and Korea Rural Economic Institute president Lee Dong-phil were respectively named minister of unification and minister of agriculture.
For the post of Minister of Gender Equality and Family, Park’s spokeswoman Cho Yoon-sun was picked while deputy transition team chief Rep. Chin Young of the Saenuri Party was tapped to head the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
As for the environment and labor ministries, Park chose Hanyang University Environmental Engineering Research Institute’s Yoon Seong-kyu and Korea Labor Institute’s Phang Ha-nam, respectively.
Yonsei University professor Suh Seoung-hwan will be heading the ministry of land and transport.
“I feel heavy responsibility in working to become part of the foundations for establishing a positive loop between growth and welfare, and going further to open the era of public happiness,” Finance Minister-nominee Hyun told reporters.
Regarding the economy, he said that the country has overcome crises in the past and that the current situation will be used as “an opportunity to establish a new paradigm.”
He declined to elaborate on the issue of economic democratization that formed the core of Park’s economic pledges during the election campaign.
Health and Welfare Minister nominee Chin said successful welfare policies are key to achieving the Park administration’s main objective of realizing the public’s happiness.
Regarding his National Assembly seat and call to prohibit lawmakers from holding more than one position, which Chin supported, the welfare minister nominee said that he will give up the parliament seat if such regulation is introduced.
The transition team said that the announcement was brought forward as timing for the new government’s launch is being made increasingly tighter due to the delays in the National Assembly’s processing of the government reorganization plans.
“The government reorganization plan must be passed by the National Assembly to allow the new administration to conduct state affairs smoothly,” transition team chief Kim Yong-joon said, and called for the opposition party’s cooperation in the matter.
The ruling Saenuri Party reacted positively to the roster, saying that the nominees appeared to be “people who have expertise in the concerned fields, or those who have a good understanding of President-elect Park Geun-hye’s philosophy for state affairs.”
The main opposition Democratic United Party, however, criticized the announcement as “disregarding the National Assembly’s legislative powers.”
“Announcing the nominees for ministries that have not been agreed on by ruling and opposition parties is regrettable,” DUP spokesman Park Yong-jin said. The DUP spokesman also attacked the six nominees earlier announced last week.
“The six Cabinet members including Minister of National Defense announced earlier are proving to be (result of) lax vetting process. If (the appointments) go ahead regarding the parliamentary confirmation hearing as a formality, the damages will be dealt to the public and become an obstacle for the Park Geun-hye administration.”
The two main parties have so far failed to approve the president-elect’s government reorganization plan with the DUP opposing a number of planned changes including transferring trade-related functions to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Resources from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
According to the DUP, inter-party negotiations have been unable to progress because the Saenuri Party has been ordered to stick to the original plans.
Under the plans, the Foreign Ministry’s trade functions will be transferred to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, creating the new body in charge of issues regarding industry, trade and resources.
The nominations have also incited criticism that Park is deviating from the promise of “grand integration” in selecting high-level officials due to the small representation of individuals from the Jeolla provinces.
Of the prime ministerial and 17 ministerial nominees, only two -― Chin and Phang -― are from the Jeolla region. Chin lives and grew up in Seoul, but was born in North Jeolla Province.
Of the remainder, nine are from Seoul or nearby regions, five are from the Gyeongsang region, and two are from the Chungcheong provinces.
For its part, Park’s side has defended the president-elect’s personnel choices as being true to her pledge, saying that ability was the only standard used in the selection.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)