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Controversy over Kim Hyo-seok as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education

Controversy over Kim Hyo-seok as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education

Posted January. 21, 2005 22:44,   


News that Cheong Wa Dae offered the position of deputy prime minister and minister of Education and Human Resources Development to Representative Kim Hyo-seok of the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) was revealed on January 21, causing a minor stir.

The Uri Party, with about 10 of its representatives embroiled in election law violation trials, is almost certain to lose its majority standing in the National Assembly by the end of the first half of the year. Due to this situation, certain sections of the ruling party are alluding to a merger with the MDP. The introduction of an MDP representative into the Cabinet may be the starting point of such a movement.

The MDP expressed anger on this issue, calling the offer “a plot to destroy the MDP.” The party agreed to make a pledge against merging with the Uri Party at next month’s party convention.

It has been revealed that Representative Kim received the offer around January 15 through an international phone call made by Presidential Chief of Staff Kim Woo-shik, during a tour of South America. President Roh Moo-hyun also called him personally afterwards to try and persuade him, and even mentioned that he would be allowed to stay in the MDP.

Cheong Wa Dae announced that this is “absolutely not a steppingstone to merge with the MDP or to construct a joint government,” and added, “President Roh has always looked forward to appointing Kim.”

Having been a professor of business administration at Chung-Ang University for 10 years, Kim is an expert not only in economics but also in info-communications, making him the ideal person to reform college education in the field of science and engineering. Cheong Wa Dae explained that in addition to this, his political expertise as a re-elected assemblyman and a consideration for the Honam area are also reasons why Representative Kim should take the position.

Representative Kim supported Seoul National University alumni Rhee In-je in the 2002 primary elections, but after the primary elections became President Roh’s advisor of economic policy.

He also acted as a mediator between President Roh and the defeated Rhee In-je, advising Lee to help the president. During the process, President Roh took interest in Kim and before the separation of the Uri and MDP parties, often invited him to Cheong Wa Dae.

Representative Kim is expected to announce his decision on January 22. Those who have discussed this matter with Kim are speculating that he seems to be leaning towards refusing. In any regard, Cheong Wa Dae is under fire again on this matter of appointing Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Human Resources Development.

Jung-Hun Kim Ho-Won Choi jnghn@donga.com bestiger@donga.com