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Presidential Office Set to Reshuffle Staff

Posted April. 28, 2004 20:48,   


The Presidential Office is gearing itself to reshuffle presidential advisers on the assumption that the Constitutional Court will rule in favor of the restoration of President Roh Moo-hyun to office.

The Uri Party’s acquisition of the majority position in the April 15 National Assembly election has enhanced the need for revamping the political affairs organization. The recent resignation of Lee Ho-cheol as civil affairs adviser, the leading member of President Roh’s army of young aides, has also added to the need for redefining the role that his inner circle should play. Lee, who initially intended to leave the post along with Moon Jae-in who resigned as senior civil affairs adviser in February, said while expressing his willingness for resignation, “I promised President Roh I would work for him for at least one year. I have overworked and that exhausted my health to the point where I cannot work anymore.”

The post of senior political adviser, currently doubled by public relations senior adviser Lee Byeong-wan, will be filled by a political heavyweight from the Uri Party as the need for revamping it has arisen.

The heavyweights who lost the National Assembly race, Lee Boo-young, Kim Jeong-gil and Lee Cheol, are under consideration for the post. However, the senior adviser post, which is on par with the vice minister post, may be considered too low for them. Lee Gang-cheol, the former special aide to President Roh who has no prior experience as a lawmaker, won’t be considered for the political adviser post.

As President Roh has decided against directly handling political issues even after the restoration of his power, the function of the senior political adviser office will need to be redefined. In this context, the criteria for the post will not be the candidates’ connections with politicians, but their ability to handle political tasks. A non-politician candidate may get the job.

Interest has been heightened in who will take over the civil affairs adviser post and fill the currently vacant post of director of Annex 1, the position allowing close access to the president.

Rumors have it that Yoon Tai-young, the current Presidential spokesman who reportedly is good at reading President Roh’s intentions, will be tapped as Annex 1 director. However, Yoon is expected to continue to work as spokesman. If he is appointed to the new post, Cheon Ho-seon, protocol secretary, or Kim Bang-hee, a financial journalist, will fill Yoon’s current post.

The vacant post of civil affairs secretary will likely be filled by Jeong Yoon-jae, the former member of the government transition team who lost the election in Busan, or Kim Man-su, the former director of the presidential press corps’s office.

Once reinstated, President Roh will visit Russia and other countries, and the post of international relations adviser, which has been vacant for the past three months, will be filled soon.

Jung-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com