중앙데일리

New Minister Backs 'Sunshine'

Appointment Made to Shore Up Ties With Regional Powers

Sept 07,2001
"As there is a wide variety of views on the method and pace of engaging the North, it is reasonable to harmoniously accommodate those opinions and gain the people's support," Hong Soon-young, the newly appointed minister of unification, said at a press conference Friday.

Mr. Hong emphasized that the engagement policy of President Kim Dae-jung is a historical imperative, the basis of which need not be changed. "If reunification is a long-term goal, the 'sunshine policy' is a short- to mid-term plan for achieving that goal," he said.

Mr. Hong then noted that the two Koreas are primarily responsible for their future, but that China's role is also important as is the resumption of dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington.

Political watchers said President Kim Dae-jung's appointment of Mr. Hong shows Mr. Kim's will to continue engaging Pyongyang while strengthening ties with the United States, China, Japan and Russia in response to the formation of a trilateral cooperation regime among North Korea, China and Russia.

Mr. Hong succeeded in drawing the support of the four major powers - the United States, China, Japan and Russia - for Mr. Kim's engagement policy while serving as minister of foreign affairs and trade.

The working relationship between Mr. Hong and the man he replaced, Lim Dong-won, analysts said, was also an important factor in the appointment. Mr. Hong served under Mr. Lim, then ambassador to Nigeria, as charge d'affaires in the early 1980s and the two worked closely as minister of foreign affairs and trade and senior presidential adviser for foreign policy and national security in the late 1990s. Mr. Lim is expected to soon be named special presidential adviser on inter-Korean affairs.

"Minister Hong will oversee economic cooperation, the issue of separated families and the linking of a railway between the two Koreas, while Mr. Lim will deal with arranging North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's reciprocal visit to Seoul," an official at the Ministry of Unification said.



[ Assessment of New Cabinet Members ]


Hong Soon-young: Mr. Hong is a career diplomat who joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1962 and studied international relations at Columbia University in New York. Before being named unification minister he had been serving as South Korea's ambassador to China.

He served as charge d'affaires in Nigeria in 1981 when Lim Dong-won, who was recently ousted from his post as unification minister, was ambassador. Mr. Hong also worked closely with Mr. Lim when he served as minister of foreign affairs and trade in the late 1990s. Mr. Lim was senior presidential secretary for foreign policy and security at the time.

Kim Dong-tae: Mr. Kim joined the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in 1976 and is the first person from the Kyongsang provinces to head the ministry.

An expert in the distribution of agricultural products, he is also the first to have held both the vice ministerial and ministerial jobs at the ministry. A former head of the Rural Development Administration, he set policies for increased rice production by developing multi-harvest rice plants. He ran for a National Assembly seat as a Millennium Democratic Party candidate last year, but lost. He is said to be taciturn and cautious.

Yoo Yong-tae: In 1980, he served as director-general of the Labor Standards Bureau of the Labor Administration. As an Assemblyman, he fought to get laws granting maternity and child care leave passed by the National Assembly as the chairman of the Environment and Labor Committee.

He became a member of the National Congress for New Politics, which preceded the Millennium Democratic Party, in September 1998, then moved to the opposition Grand National Party. He is now back with the MDP. He is approachable and regularly leads a gathering of present and former lawmakers of the GNP. He is close to Han Kwang-ok, chairman-designate of the MDP.

Ahn Jung-nam: Mr. Ahn has served in the National Tax Service since 1989. He started as an assistant librarian and studied at night to pass the national examinationss for managerial positions.

Because he worked his way up, he is popular among low- and mid-level bureaucrats for his understanding of their difficulties. He is known for his stoic personality and for being very meticulous on the job. Former co-workers said people are drawn to him, not because of his position, but because he strikes them as a hard-working, honest, down-to-earth man. They added that he always combines prudence and principles in his work.

Yu Sam-nam: Having served as admiral of the Third Fleet and strategic admiral in the South Korean Navy, Mr. Yu gained expertise in operation strategies.

While commanding a submarine during a joint exercise in 1998, he directed a Korean naval exercise by striking through a torpedo net of a U.S. aircraft carrier. Last June, he forcefully argued against criticism from the opposition Grand National Party of naval commanders' response to North Korean vessels crossing the maritime boundary. Because he comes from Gimhae, South Kyongsang province, his appointment is considered by some analysts as a nod toward regional balance.


by Oh Young-hwan




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