[EDITORIALS]Another Puzzling Appointment

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[EDITORIALS]Another Puzzling Appointment

The appointment of Namkung Jin, former senior presidential secretary for political affairs, to replace Culture and Tourism Minister Kim Han-gill, shows problems in the personnel management of the current administration. Former Minister Kim was long ago designated to be the ruling party's candidate for the Assembly in an Oct. 25 by-election. So why did President Kim Dae-jung not make the appointment on Sept. 7, along with the other cabinet changes?

The ruling camp explains that they had to deal with the internal turmoil caused by former party chairman Kim Joong-kwon and had to follow internal party procedures to ensure transparency and fairness in the appointment. Since former Minister Kim's candidacy in the by-election was designated before last week's reshuffle of Blue House aides, including Mr. Namkung, the Blue House should have just gone ahead with the appointment then. The whole thing looks artificial and engineered. Kim Han-gill has also set a bad precedent by staying on as minister, even for a short period, after deciding to run for an Assembly seat. That blurs the distinction between administration and politics.

The other sticking point is that the new minister is a core Kim Dae-jung loyalist. By delaying his appointment, the government raises questions about whether it was trying to deflect criticism about the lack of new faces in government, a criticism that was voiced after the Sept. 7 reshuffle.

Mr. Namkung's appointment falls far short of the criterion of "expertise and reformist mindset" set forth by the Blue House in its Sept. 7 appointments. When President Kim Dae-jung appointed former Unification Minister Lim Dong-won as special presidential advisor on foreign affairs and national security, the opposition parties criticized it as rebuffing the parliament's no-confidence motion against Mr. Lim. But the Blue House said that the appointment was inevitable as there needs to be consistency and expertise in carrying out the North Korean policy. Using that same logic, we see that Mr. Namkung has almost no experience in cultural affairs. He is regarded as a modest person inside the political arena, but a minister indeed needs expertise and experience. We are not convinced he can handle his new job.

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