Park shrinks Blue House structure

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Park shrinks Blue House structure

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The Blue House of incoming President Park Geun-hye will be much more compact than that of the current administration, with more power given to the chief of staff and the cabinet.

Park will be assisted by a chief of staff, a national security council and nine senior secretaries, her presidential transition team said yesterday.

Following last week’s announcement of a restructuring of the administration, including ministries, the transition team held a press conference at its office in Samcheong-dong, central Seoul, and introduced a new presidential office structure.

It did away with the posts of chief of policy staff and senior secretary posts for social unity and national crisis management.

The current Blue House of President Lee Myung-bak has six senior officers who work at the same level as senior secretaries. Those posts will be abolished.

But it created the Office of National Security to better cope with threats from North Korea.

And two new senior secretarial offices have been created.

The first, for state affairs planning, will be in charge of strengthening the promotion of the president’s main agenda items.

The second, for the so-called future strategy, will come up with strategies for the country’s future, including new growth engines for the economy and preparing for changes in the climate.

The Blue House chief of staff will be given the additional role of heading the personal affairs committee to look after appointments for the president.

“The reorganization of the executive branch includes an important message to realize the national philosophy goals pursued by President-elect Park,” said Kim Yong-joon, chief of her transition team. “Most of all, it reflects the commitment to reduce unnecessary waste and to have ministries and the presidential office carry out their respective duties and roles with more responsibility.”

The nine offices of senior secretaries are: political affairs, civil affairs, public relations, state affairs planning, economic affairs, future strategy, education and culture, employment and social welfare, and foreign affairs and national security.

According to Kim, the reorganization will simplify the structure of the secretariat and enhance the capability of promoting the president’s agenda.

“In the past, the secretariat carried out roles that overlapped with the ministers,” Kim said. “The senior secretaries will now focus on their original duties of assisting the president by preparing national issues in advance, and complementing the work done by the ministers.”

The revival of the Office of National Security was one of Park’s campaign pledges to have a “control tower” for national security issues.

A smaller presidential office was in line with Park’s campaign promise to make government ministers more responsible. There has been criticism of the presidential office of the outgoing Lee government exercising too much power over ministries.

In last week’s announcement of a new government structure, two new ministries were created and a deputy prime minister post for economic affairs was created.

The reorganization of the presidential office is the latest step toward forming the incoming government.

Park is expected to make a nomination for prime minister as early as later this week and selections for other cabinet positions are expected to follow. Cabinet nominations will then go through confirmation hearings at the National Assembly.


By Lee Eun-joo, Yonhap [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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