중앙데일리

Im Jong-seok makes fast return to Moon’s side

Jan 22,2019
Im Jong-seok
Nearly two weeks after President Moon Jae-in let his former chief of staff go in a show of reform, the Blue House announced Monday that Im Jong-seok will return as Moon’s special advisor for the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Han Byung-do, former senior secretary for political affairs, was named Moon’s special advisor for Iraq.

Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said during a press briefing Monday that Im had strengthened mutual trust between Korea and the UAE while serving as presidential chief of staff, and that based on this, the Blue House expects him to contribute immensely to boosting Korea’s national interests in his new post as advisor for the UAE.

Concerning Han, Kim said he has enriched people-to-people networks between Korea and Iraq while serving as chairman of the board of directors of the Korea Iraq Friendship Foundation from 2009 to 2017.

Aside from Im and Han, the Blue House also named four new secretaries Monday, all of who were already serving in secretary posts. Spokesman Kim gave no concrete explanation as to why Moon decided to reshuffle them, other than the fact that Baek Won-woo was resigning as secretary for civil affairs to take a break before running in the parliamentary elections in 2020. Kim also said the Blue House wanted the secretaries to work with “new spirits” in their new positions.

Kim Young-bae, secretary for policy coordination, was named as secretary for civil affairs. Lee Jin-seok, who served as secretary for social policy, was named secretary for policy coordination. Min Hyung-bae, secretary for self-government, was appointed secretary for social policy. Kim Woo-young, secretary for institution reform, became secretary for self-government.

Im resigned on Jan. 8 after serving 20 months as Moon’s chief of staff, leading to speculation he was going to gear up for the 2020 general election. At the time, several sources in the Blue House and National Assembly said Moon was parting ways with Im, who wasn’t affiliated to any particular faction within the ruling Democratic Party, to appoint Noh Young-min, then-Korean Ambassador to China, who received solid backing from an influential intra-party group. This was to earn the liberal party’s blessings in pushing through Moon’s chief policies through the parliament, the sources said.

Up until his resignation, Im had led a preparatory group of top officials in the Blue House and government to hammer out the inter-Korean agreements made last year, and was known to have been deeply involved in South-North affairs. When asked by a reporter whether Im will also be covering diplomatic and national security affairs on the sidelines Monday, Blue House spokesman Kim replied Im would only handle issues related to the UAE.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]


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