Go to contents

Roh`s Surprising Cabinet Composition

Posted February. 27, 2003 22:58,   


President Roh Moo-hyun pronounced yesterday, "During my presidency, each minister will be guaranteed at least two or two and a half years in office, unless special circumstances make it impossible. In the future, I will not reshuffle the cabinet just for change." Especially, President Roh stressed, "It would be better for the interest of the nation to see a minister ends his/her term with the president. It is much more needed when the society needs a continuous stability."

The remarks came at a press conference held at the Blue House, where President Roh explained his selections for the cabinet membership. He also emphasized, "When a minister should be held accountable for a wrongdoing, I will hold only the person in charge."

In addition, President Roh promised to guarantee the remaining term of the incumbent Attorney General, and was quoted as saying, "In the past, the prosecution served not only the citizens, but also the people in power. In the future, however, I will have them serve only the South Korean citizens." Therefore, incumbent Attorney General Kim Kok-young is likely to sit in office until the end of his term.

Regarding the ongoing investigation of the SK group, President Roh commented that "when a new administration takes office, our law enforcement agencies tend to work hard and try to root out all the wrongs in our society at once. I don`t favor that style. They don`t have to worry about what the Blue House might think. Prosecutors simply have to do as required by the law. They should think about what would be beneficial to the South Korean people."

Roh further said as to operation of the cabinet, "Operation of the cabinet falls into the discretion of all the cabinet members including Prime Minister. It`s their authority and responsibility. When the Prime Minister fails to harmonize different voices between agencies, or when a matter is deemed of great national interest, I will promptly intervene to resolve it. I am ready to talk even with an ordinary government worker, if I have to." With regard to moving the capital near to Daejun, he said that he would establish a special task force in the Blue House and take care of the matter himself.

Yesterday, before the conference, President Roh appointed 19 minister-level officials including heads of 18 ministries. Thus, Kim Jin-pyo is to take office as Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economy, and Yoon Young-kwon, former professor of Seoul National University, as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

President Roh, however, postponed appointment of another Deputy Prime Minister who will take charge of education due to the inability to find an appropriate candidate. Two ministers are to continuously serve also in the new administration. One is Chung Seh-hyun, who will continue to lead the Unification Ministry; and the other is Han Myung-sook, who is to change her title from Minister of Gender Equality to Minister of Environment.

The Justice Ministry will be led by Kang Kum-shil, a former civil rights attorney and the Defense Ministry by Cho Young-geel, former Joint Chiefs of Staff. In addition, Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs is to be headed by Kim Doo-kwon, Ministry of Science and Technology by Park Ho-koon, Ministry of Culture and Tourism by Lee Chang-dong, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry by Rep. Kim Young-jin, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy by Yoon Jin-shik, Ministry of Information and Communication by Jin Dae-jae, and Ministry of Health and Welfare by Rep. Kim Hwa-choong.

Moreover, former professor Kwon Kee-hong will lead Ministry of Labor, a civil rights activist Jee Eun-hee Ministry of Gender Equality, Choi Chong-chan Ministry of Construction and Transportation, and professor Huh Sung-kwon Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. On the other hand, Park Bong-hum will be promoted from deputy minister to the head of Ministry of Planning and Budget, and KTB Network chairman Lee Young-tak will head the Office for Government Policy Coordination.

Jeong-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com