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Kim Seeking New Faces

Prime Minister, Economy Minister May Move On

Aug 13,2001
Just five months after changing 12 members of his cabinet, President Kim Dae-jung will name four or five ministers and a number of other high officials, senior ruling party officials said Monday.

In the overhaul, which will reportedly come next week at the latest, Mr. Kim is also expected to replace Prime Minister Lee Han-dong. Kim Joong-kwon, chairman of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, and the presidential chief of staff, Han Kwang-ok, are also reportedly going to be reassigned, along with other senior Blue House aides.

Party officials said Jin Nyum, deputy prime minister for finance and economy, could be replaced along with some other economy-related ministers, because restructuring programs are nearing completion and the government wants to stimulate the sagging economy.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mr. Kim had planned to announce the changes Monday. The announcement was pushed back because the prosecution's investigation into tax evasion by media firms had not been wrapped up. The delayed return from the United States of Kim Jong-pil, the honorary chairman of the ruling party's main coalition partner, the United Liberal Democrats, also contributed to the change of plans, the officials said.

Political analysts said they are unsure if Kim Joong-kwon will run for one of the vacant seats in the National Assembly or be named prime minister. However, under the loose agreement between the coalition partners, the post of prime minister has been considered the domain of the United Liberal Democrats.

Mr. Han, who along with Kim Joong-kwon is a stalwart of the ruling party, is expected to be appointed chairman of the party.

Analysts said the reshuffle will take some of the focus off the controversial tax-evasion investigation and satisfy the younger members of the ruling party, who have been calling for changes to party leadership since May.



by Kim Jin-kook




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