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First Female Prime Minister Resigns

Posted March. 06, 2007 07:15,   


Han Myeong-sook, the first female Prime Minister of South Korea, will resign after eight months in office on March 7.

Though once regarded as a figurehead early on in her tenure, she clearly raised her voice when it came to domestic affairs, such as the controversy over President Roh’s appointee for minister of Education and Human Resources Development, Kim Byong-joon, and over permission to purchase lottery tickets on the Internet. Her involvement in political affairs, however, caused complaints from opposition parties.

Impressive Work As A Coordinator-

It was last July when she first showed her ability as a coordinator. Kim Byong-joon, then deputy prime minister and minister of Education and Human Resources Development, was mired in a plagiarism scandal and under pressure to resign. Prime Minister Han said, “To settle the political dispute over him, I could exercise my power as prime minister: putting forward his dismissal to President Roh.” Right after her remark, Deputy Prime Minister Lee stepped down and the dispute ended.

It was Prime Minister Han who forced the government to abandon the scheme to sell lottery tickets on the Internet last November. Though addiction to gambling has become a nationwide problem, the Lottery Committee under the prime minister pushed ahead with the plan. She ordered the committee to stop, saying, “It will be the equivalent of government-sponsored gambling. It cannot be allowed.”

When the sense of insecurity heightened over North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, she visited the Second Fleet, which engaged in the “Yellow Sea Clash” with North Korea in 2002, the ROK-US Combined Forces Command, and the Korea Veterans Association.

Controversial Involvement In Domestic Politics-

Upon her inauguration, she said she would do her best to enhance the livelihood of the public. But she didn’t make any significant economic achievements during her time. Though she apologized the public for the government’s mishandling of real estate policies as housing prices skyrocketed in a short period of time, she did little to correct that.

Her involvement in domestic politics caused disputes after she was named as one of the ruling party’s possible presidential candidates. In late January, President Roh proposed to amend South Korea’s constitution. Even though the public’s opinion was negative, she established a “Supporting Group for Constitution Amendment” in the administration to bolster President Roh’s plan.

Last month, she visited Muan in South Jeolla Province, where by-elections for the National Assembly will be held on April 25, to announce lowering height restrictions for building around Mokpo Airport. The opposition party criticized the announcement as a populist tactic for the upcoming by-election. It also was in contrast with the government’s restrictions on Hynix Semiconductor`s expansion plans and Shinsegae-Chelsea’s development plans for a retail complex.

She sent a farewell letter to a thousand of her supporters, saying, “From now on, I will put my utmost into the development of the nation and the happiness of the public.”