Go to contents

Vice Minister King

Posted August. 19, 2010 00:55,   


Park Jie-won, floor leader and the head of an emergency countermeasures committee of the main opposition Democratic Party, held key posts under the Kim Dae-jung administration (1998-2003) beginning with presidential press secretary in 1998. He also served as culture and tourism minister, senior presidential secretary for policy coordination, special presidential adviser for policy, and presidential chief of staff. Due to Kim’s strong confidence in him, Park took a splendid career path through the Kim administration but faced checks and jealousy. While senior presidential secretary for policy coordination, he was called “secretary king” due to his huge influence over the presidential office. When named Kim’s final presidential chief of staff, some asked if there was no other figure for president than Park.

Lee Won-jong, who was senior presidential secretary for political affairs under the Kim Young-sam administration, was also called secretary king. Though a senior presidential secretary is a vice minister-level post, Lee was treated as a minister. The Roh Moo-hyun administration’s secretary king was Moon Jae-in, who served as senior presidential secretary for civil government, civil society and political affairs and presidential chief of staff. Whenever faced with external criticism over the power elite inside the administration, presidents invariably would say they had no influential figures in the government.

President Lee Myung-bak said Monday, “The media mentioned ‘vice minister king.’ But nobody among the vice ministers I’ve appointed have the name ‘king.’” He was referring to Vice Knowledge Economy Minister Park Young-joon, whom the media call “vice minister king.” President Lee said, “It seems that a vice minister who yields real influence is called as such, but this administration has no power elite. I like people who work very well and the power elite are those who work hard.”

On April 2, 2008, President Lee said, “The presidential office has no influential figures. I feel grateful to everyone who works very hard,” and mentioned several former presidential secretaries including Park Young-joon. On President Lee’s comment made Monday, an angry Park Jie-won said a day later, “President Lee has ridiculed the people. This is not a comment the president can make.” It seems that a former influential figure recognizes another influential figure. Park Young-joon is so influential that junior lawmakers loyal to President Lee criticized the “privatization of power.” The vice minister will get rid of his “king” nickname after showing his ability with a humble attitude.

Editorial Writer Park Seong-won (swpark@donga.com)