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Former Deputy Speaker Chung Jin-suk named Chief of Staff

Former Deputy Speaker Chung Jin-suk named Chief of Staff

Posted April. 23, 2024 07:46,   

Updated April. 23, 2024 07:46


President Yoon Suk Yeol appointed former National Assembly Deputy Speaker Chung Jin-suk as the new Chief of Staff to the President on Monday. He chose the five-term lawmaker from the ruling party as his initial step in a personnel shakeup aimed at aligning with the sentiments expressed by the public in the April 10 general elections. He also appointed Hong Chul-ho, a former People Power Party (PPP) lawmaker, as Chief of Staff for Political Affairs. Lee Do-woon, who announced his intention to resign, is rumored to be retained. “I will provide the president with objective feedback solely from the eye level of the people,” Chung said.

Chung Jin-suk, a seasoned state affairs professional, will serve as the president's third chief of staff. His extensive experience includes roles as former President Lee Myung-bak’s senior secretary for political affairs and the PPP’s emergency committee chairman. Notably, Chung and President Yoon share a long-standing friendship, having been born in the same year, 1960. Chung is credited with encouraging President Yoon to join the PPP three years ago when he was considering a political career. While some may question the appointment of a close friend of the same age, it's important to note that Chung has a track record of providing candid feedback, even when it may be uncomfortable for the president to hear.

President Yoon's leadership style, often characterized by his tendency to speak rather than listen, has raised concerns. His staff's advice was often poorly received, and internal alarm bells failed to ring when the president emphasized ideology out of nowhere or went without holding a press conference for over a year and a half. The presidential office even experienced an absurd situation in which a close confidant of First Lady Kim Keon Hee leaked its plan to appoint Park Young-sun and Yang Jung Cheol as Prime Minister and Chief of Staff, respectively, to the media. Mr. Chung must rectify these issues swiftly, demonstrating a commitment to improved work discipline and easing concerns about being a 'buddy chief of staff.’

President Yoon faces numerous political obstacles ahead. Several controversial issues, including suspicions of external pressure in the investigation of the Corporal Chae Su-geun case and the Kim Keon Hee Special Prosecution Act, must be addressed. Additionally, he will need to secure the consent of the Democratic Party to advance policies such as budget allocations and legislative amendments. The opposition parties also raise concerns about Chung due to his defamation conviction involving the late President Roh Moo-hyun. Given these circumstances, the government must communicate extensively with the opposition parties and establish a model of cooperation unprecedented in its scope.

Still, the final decision to make any changes lay with President Yoon. Following the April 10 general elections, President Yoon called Lee Jae-myung of the Democratic Party of Korea and offered to meet with him for the first time. He also pledged to change the governing style by speaking less and listening more. However, similar promises were made by the president when his approval ratings were at the 20% mark three months after taking office and after losing the by-election for the mayorship of Gangseo District last year. Ultimately, it's not just about words but the president's actions.