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Same faces again (KOR)

Nov 10,2018
President Moon Jae-in on Friday appointed Hong Nam-ki, director of the Office for Government Policy Coordination under the Prime Minister’s Office, the new deputy prime minister for the economy and finance minister, and Kim Su-hyun, senior presidential secretary for social affairs, as his new policy chief. With the reshuffle, Moon reaffirmed his determination to press ahead with his administration’s existing policies, including the controversial income-led growth policy. We are dumbfounded at his obstinacy despite growing demands for the government to change course.

Concerns arose after rumors about the replacements of his two top economic aides. The opposition Bareunmirae Party strongly opposed the replacements, urging the Blue House to appoint new faces who will change the administration’s economic direction.

Worries were felt inside the ruling camp as well. Lee Joung-woo, chairman of the Korea Student Aid Foundation and former policy chief under President Roh Moo-hyun, said it is hard to see Kim as the head of the Blue House policy office because he is not an expert in the economy. The new policy chief is not free from criticism of his inability to control soaring real estate prices as senior presidential secretary for social affairs. His push for a bold plan to phase out nuclear reactors also triggered bad ramifications.

The Blue House said Hong understands Moon’s philosophy of administering the government well as an insider. But it is nothing but a revolving-door appointment. His appointment fell way short of meeting public expectations for change.

The Blue House praised the men’s abilities to coordinate government policies. But if they cannot change the administration’s pro-labor and antimarket policies and fix its economic policies, public disgruntlement will only grow.

In Friday’s meeting to find ways for large companies to share profits with smaller contractors and suppliers, Moon reiterated that fairness was lost in the course of economic growth, and vowed to fulfill his campaign promise of economic democratization. Despite a need to level the playing field among economic players, his adherence to ideology hampers innovation and drains economic vitality.

That is why we are worried about the ruling party’s proposed revisions to the commercial and fair trade laws. As the outgoing deputy prime minister hinted, the problem with the administration is its resorting to political solutions for economic problems. If the government fails to resuscitate our economy, it can hardly hope to take power again.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 10, Page 34