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Lee Administration Reshuffles Economic Team

Posted January. 20, 2009 08:08,   


The Lee Myung-bak administration yesterday conducted a reshuffle of its economic team, replacing the country’s top economic policymaker.

Former Financial Supervisory Service Chairman Yoon Jeung-hyun was named strategy and finance minister. Export-Import Bank of Korea President Chin Dong-soo was appointed to replace Yoon at the financial watchdog.

Korea University professor Hyun In-taek was named unification minister and deputy chief of the Office of the Prime Minister Kwon Tae-shin was promoted to chief.

President Lee Myung-bak replaced four ministers and his senior secretary for economic affairs Bahk Byong-won, whose post will be taken by Yoon Jin-shik, former industry minister and current president of Korea Investment Holdings.

Presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan told reporters, “Yoon Jeung-hyun has expertise and insight of overall economic affairs including finance. He is expected to boost market confidence, which in turn will help the nation overcome the economic crisis.”

Kang is known to have helped Korea weather the economic crisis and sign currency swap deals with the United States, Japan and China. He announced his intent to resign, however, saying, “It will be better to overhaul the whole economic team.”

Successors will be named soon for Public Administration and Security Minister Won Sei-hoon, who was designated National Intelligence Service director Sunday, and former National Tax Service Commissioner Han Sang-ryule, who resigned over bribery allegations.

Lawmakers of the ruling Grand National Party proposed that President Lee appoint prominent party members to ministerial posts. At a breakfast meeting with party leader Park Hee-tae, however, Lee said, “I understand the need but I cannot name certain figures of the ruling party since this reshuffle is about the economic team, and only a few Cabinet members will be replaced.”

Lee’s closest political adviser Park Young-joon, former presidential secretary for planning and coordination, was named to the No. 2 post at the Prime Minister’s Office. Lee Joo-ho, former presidential secretary for education, science and culture, was appointed first vice minister at the Education, Science, and Technology Ministry.

Fifteen vice ministers or vice minister-level officials including new senior secretary for economic affairs Yoon Jin-shik were replaced.

Newly appointed vice ministers include Heo Gyeong-uk, presidential secretary for national policies and now vice strategy and finance minister; Kim Jung-hyun, Yonsei University life science professor and now second vice education minister; Lee Gui-nam, chief public prosecutor of the Daegu High Court and now vice justice minister; Jeong Chang-seop, assistant deputy minister of the Public Administration and Security Ministry and now first vice minister; Kang Byeong-gyu, chairman of the Appeals Commission and now second vice public administration and security minister; Ahn Cheol-shik, head of the energy and resources department of the Knowledge Economy Ministry and now second vice minister; Jin Yeong-gon, head of social welfare policy at the Health and Welfare Ministry and now vice gender equality minister; and Choi Chang-hyun, director of the Korea Container Terminal Authority and now second vice minister of land, transport and maritime affairs.

New vice minister-level officials include Byun Moo-geun, former commander of education for the Navy and now director of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration; Jeon Byeong-seong, former presidential secretary for the environment and now chief of the Korea Meteorological Administration; Jo Won-dong, former head of the state affairs department of the Prime Minister’s Office and now deputy chief of the office; and Choi Min-ho, former head of personnel department of the Public Administration and Security Ministry and now chairman of the ministry’s Appeals Commission.

yongari@donga.com mhpark@donga.com