Lee overhauls Blue House staff

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Lee overhauls Blue House staff


President Lee Myung-bak completed the shake-up of his senior secretariat yesterday, naming Hong Sang-pyo, an executive of the cable news broadcaster YTN, as senior secretary of public affairs.

Yu Myeong-hee, a prominent scientist who heads the 21st Century Frontier R&D Program at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, was appointed to the newly created post of senior officer for national future to oversee the administration’s science, technology, broadcasting and communication policies as well as its low-carbon, green growth ambitions.

Kim Du-woo, a former JoongAng Ilbo journalist who has been working as the president’s speechwriter, was named the secretary to the president for planning and coordination.

According to the Blue House, Lee has decided to retain five of his senior secretaries: senior secretary for foreign affairs Kim Sung-hwan, senior secretary for economic affairs Choi Joong-kyung, senior secretary for civil affairs Kwon Jae-jin, senior secretary for social welfare Chin Young-kon and senior secretary for education and culture Jin Dong-seop.

A newly created post of senior officer for policy coordination, who will work for the new chief secretary for policy development and coordination, will soon be named after Lee consults with new policy director Baek Yong-ho, the Blue House said.

Once again, Lee postponed the appointment of a senior officer for personnel affairs, a position which has been vacant since its creation in the last Blue House shake-up in September 2009.

Hong, the new public affairs secretary, is a 52-year-old native of North Chungcheong who studied politics and diplomacy at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

He worked as a reporter for Yonhap News from 1982 to 1994, when he joined YTN. After working at the national, political and international desks, Hong was named assistant managing director of YTN in March.

“His long career as a journalist has built a wide human network, which will contribute greatly to the job of seeking public understanding for government policies and communication with the people,” the Blue House said.

Yu, a 55-year-old native of Seoul, is a prominent bioengineering researcher. “Yu’s passion and spirit for challenges and excellent coordination abilities as well as her driving force will best fit the role of the senior officer for national future, who will prepare the nation’s next-generation engines of economic growth,” the Blue House said.

Kim, 53, is a graduate of Seoul National University whose journalistic career with the JoongAng Ilbo began in 1983. He joined Lee’s Blue House in February 2008 as a secretary for political affairs. Since September, Kim has been working as Lee’s speechwriter.

According to the Blue House, the new senior secretaries will begin work on Monday.

The Democratic Party yesterday sneered at the lineup of the new presidential aides.

“There is no reform in this shake-up,” DP spokesman Woo Sang-ho said. “The people who are equally responsible for the Lee administration’s failure are to join the Blue House. I don’t think the administration will change during the second half of its term. It won’t be able to regain popularity.”

In the aftermath of his Grand National Party’s defeat in the June local elections, Lee vowed to revamp his secretariat and cabinet, promising a generational change and competent officials who would improve the government’s efficiency.

The first move was made last week by restructuring the Blue House secretariat and naming Labor Minister Yim Tae-hee, a three-term lawmaker of the GNP and a key Lee ally, as chief of staff. Earlier this week, more appointments were made by naming Baek Yong-ho, the reform-minded National Tax Service head, as the new policy director.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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