Park picks loyalist, technocrats for key posts

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Feb 19, 2013 - 21:04
  • Updated : Feb 19, 2013 - 21:05
President-elect Park Geun-hye on Tuesday named her longtime ally Lee Jung-hyun as senior secretary for political affairs and former diplomat Ju Chul-ki for foreign affairs and national security in the final round of appointments for the new government.

Park also named her senior secretaries: former finance technocrat and Korea Institute of Public Finance president Cho Won-dong for economy; social and labor affairs professor Choi Sung-jae for labor and welfare; Seoul Arts Center president Mo Chul-min for education and culture; and technology scholar Choi Soon-hong for future strategies.

With the latest appointments, Park completes her government lineup for 18 Cabinet members, three top-level secretaries and nine senior secretaries. Park’s incoming presidential office must now appoint more than 30 secretaries in time for Park’s Feb. 25 inauguration.

The incoming government is expected to suffer an inevitable setback due to the delayed parliamentary negotiation over the government reorganization plans and the remaining confirmation hearings for all appointed ministers. Prime minister-designate Chung Hong-won is the first in line to undergo the hearing starting Wednesday.
Senior Secretary for Political Affairs appointee Lee Jung-hyun (front) and the five presidential secretary appointees attend a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday. From left: Senior Secretary for Education and Culture Mo Chul-min, Senior Secretary for Future Strategy Choi Soon-hong, Senior Secretary for Economy Cho Won-dong, Senior Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Security Ju Chul-ki and Senior Secretary for Employment and Welfare Choi Sung-jae. (Yonhap News)

Ju, as foreign affairs secretary, will be working alongside former defense minister Kim Jang-soo, who has been named to head the presidential office of national security.

Their jobs, however, will remain different as Ju will be in charge of all general foreign affairs and security issues, while Kim will be in charge of more intelligence-sensitive crisis-related matters, transition committee officials said. Ju has been the secretary-general for the Korean association of the U.N. Global Compact after serving as ambassador to France, UNESCO and Morocco and deputy ambassador at South Korea’s mission to the U.N. in Geneva.

Lee, who will be in charge of bridging communication between political circles and the government, is considered Park’s right-hand man and has helped Park’s presidential campaign as her chief communication man.

The former lawmaker joins other key pro-Park members, namely chief of staff-designate Huh Tae-yeol, to enter Cheong Wa Dae. Their designations have further fueled the opposition’s condemnation that Park was resorting to “easily manageable friendly faces,” going against her previous mantra of “national unity.”

The five other senior secretaries-designate are considered seasoned bureaucrats and experts in their respective fields, among whom many have assisted Park in devising policies either during the campaign or upon her election on the transition committee.

“There was no fairness, regional consideration or national unity made through the appointments, not to mention there being no effort to eradicate Park’s uncommunicative image,” said Democratic United Party spokesman Jung Sung-ho.

“It is questionable whether most of the designated figures, who have focused only on listening to the president-elect instead of the people, can fulfill the role beyond a simple channel between the president and the administration.”

The ruling Saenuri Party, on the other hand, lambasted the DUP for putting a strain on the incoming government’s launch.

“The government reorganization bill must be dealt with at the National Assembly in order for the new government to start its work without a hitch in a situation where North Korea is threatening stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula through its third nuclear test,” said Saenuri Party spokesman Lee Sang-il.

Park, meanwhile, is expected to name heads of the major agencies once her tenure starts, including the National Security Service, Board of Audit and Inspection, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, the National Police Agency, Fair Trade Commission, Financial Service Commission, and the National Tax Service.

By Lee Joo-hee (