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New Fair Trade, Bank Chairmen Needed

Posted February. 27, 2006 03:00,   


The heads of monetary policy and conglomerate policy will finish up their terms of office next month. The four-year term of Bank of Korea (BOK) Governor Park Seung will expire on March 31, and the three-year term of Fair Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Kang Chul-kyu will expire on March 9.

The governor of the BOK takes responsibility for monetary policy that has a large effect on the economy and the nation’s life. The chairman of the FTC, a minister-level post, is in charge of policy determination related to conglomerates. This is generating interest in economic circles regarding candidates for the next BOK governor and FTC chairman.

Although there are still a lot of uncertainties, Lee Sung-tae, Deputy Governor of BOK, will likely be promoted. Regarding the next chairman of the FTC, Park Bong-heum, ex-head of the Presidential Policy Office, is said to be the most likely candidate right now.

It is also being rumored that the former head of the Presidential Policy Office, Park Bong-heum, who had been the minister of Planning and Budget, will be appointed as the next chairman of the FTC.

Park is trusted by President Roh, who named him as “one of his top economic officials,” including Kim Jin-pyo, deputy prime minister and concurrently minister of Education and Human Resources Development. Park had held a position entering the current administration, but resigned in June 2004 due to ill health. Since then, his name has come up as a replacement for a number of major positions, including prime minister of the Economy and chief presidential secretary.

Park’s wife said in a telephone interview yesterday, “He seemingly wants to resume his involvement in government administration.” Park has not been contacted.

Other former FTC officials are also being considered, including Kim Byeong-il, an advisor for Kim and Chang, Cho Hak-guk, an advisor for Lee and Ko, who were both ex-vice chairmen of the FTC, and Lim Young-chul, the ex-chief of the Policy Office and Subcontracting Office of the FTC.

Meanwhile, the government is reportedly considering announcing the next chairman of the FTC early next month, together with a cabinet reshuffle with regard to some ministers’ candidacies for local elections.

Hyun-Jin Park witness@donga.com