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Cabinet Reshuffle to Affect 4 Major Gov`t Offices

Posted January. 17, 2009 07:56,   


President Lee Myung-bak is expected to replace the chiefs of four major offices -- the National Intelligence Agency, the National Tax Service, the Supreme Prosecutors` Office and the National Police Agency -- and a few senior presidential aides early next week.

Government sources said yesterday that the president is also considering a broader Cabinet reshuffle ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays that start Jan. 25.

A key presidential source said, “The government has already concluded a shake-up of the presidential office including senior presidential aides to come early next week. Given National Tax Service Commissioner Han Sang-ryule offered to step down, a speeding up of personnel reshuffles at key state agencies is inevitable to prevent disruptions at government organizations.”

Han, who is under fire for corruption allegations, tendered his resignation to the presidential office Thursday.

National Police Agency Commissioner General Eo Cheong-soo is also likely to step down.

President Lee is expected to accept their resignations over the weekend and appoint their successors soon.

Several names being mentioned as replacements for Han include Hur Yong-suk, commissioner of the Korea Customs Service; Cho Yong-keun, chairman of the Korean Association of Certified Public Tax Accountants; and Oh Dae-sik, a former investigation director of the tax service in Seoul.

Kim Seok-ki, commissioner at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, is considered a leading candidate to succeed Eo.

Prosecutor General Lim Chae-jin is expected to keep his job but the fate of National Intelligence Service Director Kim Sung-ho is unclear. If Kim is dismissed, Public Administration and Security Minister Won Se-hun is considering the leading replacement.

Two senior presidential aides are likely to be included in the reshuffle of the presidential office. The upcoming Cabinet shake-up is expected to focus on the economy and unification ministries.

“President Lee recently summoned Strategy and Finance Minister Kang Man-soo, praising his duty and performance and encouraging him to do his best for the nation after stepping down, which indicates president’s intent to replace him,” said a ruling party official.

Former Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman Yoon Jeung-hyun; former Commerce Minister Yoon Jin-shik and the chief policymaker of the ruling Grand National Party Yim Tae-hee are considered leading candidates to succeed Kang.

Financial Services Commission Chairman Jun Kwang-woo could also be replaced by former Vice Finance Minister Kim Seok-dong.

Sources said Knowledge Economy Minister Lee Youn-ho will retain his post, but Unification Minister Kim Ha-joong and Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee are rumored to be replaced.

Former Foreign Minister Han Seung-joo is expected to succeed Lee Tae-shik as ambassador to the United States.

Former Finance and Economy Minister Sakong Il, a special economic adviser to the president who has been mentioned as a leading candidate for ambassador to Washington, is known to head a new presidential panel called the G20 Coordination Committee to prepare and help arrange G20 financial summit meetings.

yongari@donga.com mhpark@donga.com