President Moon Jae-in is reportedly considering a personnel reshuffle to launch his second secretariat through which it will replace key aides, including the presidential chief of staff, around the Lunar New Year holiday. Moon has issued a string of messages to express his commitment to revive the nation’s economic vitality recently, but the after-impact has been weak and short-lived at best. Instead, Moon has seen his approval rating continue to slide due to the allegation of misdeeds by the special investigation team under the office of presidential secretary for political affairs’ and other reasons. The president may have judged that he needs to boost momentum in implementing state administration through a reshuffle of the presidential office in its third year in office.
If the president replaces his chief of staff, "the No. 2 person in his office," who he names will allow watchers to predict the direction of his state administration in half way through and the second half of his term in office. A reshuffle of the presidential office should not merely be replacement of people, and instead should be the starting point of a new state administration that rules out political ideology and emphasizes pragmatism, while ending the practice of state administration obsessed with correcting the past such as its drive to "clean up deep-rooted evils."
Watchers say that Presidential Secretary for Political Affairs Cho Kuk will most likely remain, but the president needs to make a bold decision to replace him. Unless President Moon sacks the aide who is being criticized for being responsible for the collapse of discipline in the presidential office due to his failure in directing the special inspection team, the personnel reshuffle will only have limited impact. As the 2020 general elections draw nearer, the president could see his grip in state administration rapidly decline. The president has little time to correct its maladministration of state affairs amid rising unemployment and an economic slump resulting from his government’s ill-advised economic policy.
The practice in which the presidential office dominates state administration should also end through the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae's phase one secretariat under President Moon. It should get rid of the outmoded practice in which the presidential office controls ministries and agencies by effectively serving as the political central command. If the presidential office interferes with ministerial affairs at the pretext of the president’s intentions, ministries will inevitably be passive rather than proactive. The president himself should overcome the desire to control all kinds of affairs and stop his aides from controlling the Cabinet. While setting the direction for the nation’s future, the presidential office needs to focus on managing bigger state agendas.
President Moon reportedly said he will continue his push to revive the national economy into next year. Chances are high that major diplomatic and national security events, including North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s return visit to Seoul, and a second Washington-Pyongyang summit, will take place next year. Despite all these, Moon's second secretariat should place its top priority on the economy. President Moon should reshuffle his office by bringing the best people possible, and concentrate on state administration throughout next year.