[EDITORIALS]Get on with the reshuffle

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[EDITORIALS]Get on with the reshuffle

Talk of a cabinet reshuffle has been going on since late last year, but it is still unclear when and how many senior government officials will be replaced. Policy confusion within the administration is intensifying, and the attitude of senior civil servants is close to indifference.

There have long been calls for a sweeping cabinet shake-up, including the naming of a new prime minister. But all we hear is unfounded speculation. With just about one year left in the president's term, who would not find it difficult to exercise real leadership? It will not be easy for the government to come up with stable and consistent policies, and soon, even ruling party presidential candidates may start attacking the president and his administration. President Kim faced political trouble last year, and stepped down as head of the ruling party after it suffered a humiliating defeat in by-elections in late October.

The Sept. 7 reshuffle is being called a disaster because Mr. Kim chose to let Prime Minister Lee Han-dong stay despite adverse public opinion about him, and appointed Ahn Jung-nam, a former tax office head, to the post of the construction and transportation minister. Less than a month later, Mr. Kim had to replace two ministers, including Mr. Ahn, in a makeshift reshuffle. Senior officials at the National Intelligence Agency and the Public Prosecutors Office have been implicated, directly or indirectly, in recent corruption scandals and have lost public trust.

The Blue House has to shake up the bureaucracy and the cabinet leadership. Nevertheless, the Blue House says that it is not considering any changes at least until next month, when the current ministers are scheduled to brief the president on key policies.

This late in Mr. Kim's administration may not be a good time to attract real talent. But if he means to detach himself from politics and devote himself to state affairs, it would not be impossible to find a good team free of regional bias.

Symbolic gestures, such as replacing only ministers who also have assembly seats and reorganizing the economic team, will not help. We need experts with principles and conviction.
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