Published : 2013-03-05 20:23
Updated : 2013-03-05 20:23
The resignation of Kim Jeong-hoon, President Park Geun-hye’s science minister nominee, is another painful reminder that Korea badly needs to reform its politics before trying to rejuvenate its economy.
The nomination of Kim for the post of future planning and science minister was seen by many as the highlight of Park’s ministerial appointments made last month.
Such a view is justified by Kim’s distinguished career. Since 2005, Kim has served as the president of Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, one of the world’s most renowned innovation hubs.
The institute has been at the forefront of communications technology for several decades. The fact that Kim has led it for years illustrates his status in the global technology community.
A holder of a Ph.D. in reliability engineering, Kim is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Innovation Hall of Fame award from the University of Maryland and the Blumenthal Award from Johns Hopkins University.
He currently sits on numerous corporate, university, and non-profit boards including: Johns Hopkins University, Stanford Institute for International Studies, and the NASDAQ Listing and Hearing Review Council.
In a word, he is fully qualified to run the Ministry of Future Planning and Science, a new ministry that lies at the center of Park’s government reorganization plan. Park envisioned it to carry out her vision of revitalizing the national economy through technological convergence.
Kim, an icon of successful Korean-Americans, accepted Park’s job offer as her vision resonated with him. He had decided to give up his American citizenship and retrieve his Korean nationality to work as a minister.
Yet he was deeply disappointed by the month-long political gridlock over the government reorganization plan. His patience wore out when the main opposition Democratic United Party rejected Park’s proposal for a meeting at Cheong Wa Dae on Sunday to resolve the stand-off.
On Monday, Kim held a news conference to announce the withdrawal of his nomination. He said the parliament’s impasse and the controversy over the proposed new ministry had “shattered my dreams of helping Korea revitalize its economy.”
Kim lamented that the National Assembly had remained in limbo “at a time when the destiny of the nation and the future of its people are at stake.”
Kim’s withdrawal will further complicate Park’s task of launching a new government. More importantly, it will make it more difficult for the nation to bring back talented Koreans now working overseas.
Politicians should realize that partisan politics scares off talented overseas Koreans who want to come back to contribute to their homeland. Korea can ill afford such a loss of talented people. They need to strive to create an environment attractive to foreign professionals as well as Koreans abroad.