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Replacement of Some Ministers Likely

Posted June. 26, 2006 07:49,   


Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Chung Tae-ho said yesterday, “President Roh Moo-hyun isn’t considering a cabinet reshuffle at this stage,” but still added that the principle of shaking up the cabinet when it is needed would remain. It is widely speculated within the ruling party that supplementing some part of the cabinet rather than a reshuffling would take place.

For a start, it is expected that Finance and Economy Minister Han Duck-soo and Minister of Education and Human Resources Development Kim Jin-pyo will be replaced.

In particular, it is widely rumored now that former presidential secretary for national policy Kim Byung-joon is expected to join the cabinet as the next education Minister.

However, it could be quite a challenge for the government to replace Minister Kim when there is a controversy over the limit on areas for foreign language high school student admissions because a replacement could imply that the government admits its failure with the education policy.

Talk of changing Minister Han is coming out because the Roh government needs new leadership capable of strongly leading economic policy in its later times. Especially, the talk of replacing the Finance and Economy Minister is becoming established with some in the economic circle forecasting that if Minister Han is replaced, Minister of Planning and Budget Byun Yang-gyun is very likely to succeed the position.

However, some Cheong Wa Dae officials strongly oppose the idea of a shift, saying that Minister Han, a trade expert, is still the one who can press ahead the Korea-U.S. FTA talks.

It is also expected that some ministers of five ministries such as Justice, National Defense, Agriculture and Forestry, Gender Equality and Family and Construction and Transportation, whose terms in office are over one year, will be subject to change.

It was heavily speculated until the local election that Justice Minister Chun Jung-bae would rejoin the Uri Party around July, and that senior presidential secretary for civil affairs Moon Jae-in will be appointed as the Justice Minister, but it currently appears that Minister Chun will remain on the job.

Minister Chun is said to have recently told some Uri Party members that he would like to stay on the job until the end of the year as the issue over the revised private school law remained unsolved. Now that Kim Geun-tae took the Uri Party chairman post, Chun might have considered that he would not have much influence within the party.

If Minister Chun is out of a job, besides former senior secretary Moon, former deputy prosecutor general Lee Jeong-soo, secretary general of Korea Independent Commission Against Corruption Kim Seong-ho, former chief of High Public Prosecutor’s office and current Uri Party’s chief legal affairs adviser Lim Nae-hyun are also said to be possible successors.

It is also very likely that former senior secretary Moon could be named as a presidential chief of staff next year, the last year of President Roh’s presidency. Going on a trip to Tibet, Moon is said to have recently told people close to him that he wants to have a break until the end of this year.

It appears that Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban Ki-moon will hold his job as he is currently faced with mounting issues, including six-party talks and demarcation of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) talks between Korea and Japan, and is said to be a candidate for UN secretary general. The outcome of the defense reform bill is likely to determine Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung’s future position.