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A senseless reshuffle

May 30,2018
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon indicated that the Moon administration’s cabinet will be reshuffled following the June local elections. A change in perspective could be necessary as the administration enters its second year, but at the same time, it is questionable whether a reshuffle will do any good. From what we have seen so far, the administration is likely to stick to its appointment guidelines and recruit people from the same inner circle. The headache of confirmation hearings and legislative wrangling over choices will likely be a waste of resources.

Current cabinet members don’t have much impact on the administration. Most of the policies are being spearheaded by current Blue House chief staff members. New faces won’t give the cabinet more weight. Lee said the fact that there was no need for a reshuffle over the past year indicates the appointments were good. But, in reality it shows how useless cabinet members have been.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha was hardly noticeable amid the roller coaster-like developments between North Korea and the United States over their planned summit in Singapore. Environment Minister Kim Eun-kyung stumbled in her response to the crisis over plastic and foam waste after China banned imports of recyclable waste. Minister of Gender Equality and Family Chung Hyun-back was quiet in response to the spread of the Me Too movement. Education Minister Kim Sang-kon added confusion to an already-muddled policy on college admissions with his contradictory comments.

A reshuffle will be meaningless unless there is a fundamental change in the administration’s Blue House-led governance. Cabinet members must have a greater say in managing state affairs.

Should the cabinet be changed, it needs to be centered on reinforcing the economic team, led by Deputy Prime Minister Kim Dong-yeon. The income-led growth policy must be fixed to aid the economy. If there are no changes in the policy direction, it won’t matter if there are more cabinet members dutifully following orders from the presidential office.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 29, Page 30