One office is enough

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One office is enough

Concerns are growing over President-elect Park Geun-hye’s transition team’s inefficient plan to revamp the organization of the Blue House. With the apparent obscurity of the chain of command and unclear boundaries of some senior secretaries, political pundits are asking if the reshuffle plan was drafted in haste.

Successful foreign affairs and security policies hinge on the deft management of the Korean Peninsula in the case of an abrupt crisis in North Korea, nuclear tests and missile launches.

To effectively cope with volatile situations, the Blue House must have efficient systems for decision-making. Yet the president-elect decided to keep intact the vice ministerial-level senior secretary for foreign affairs and national security even after establishing a new Office of National Security at the presidential office.

According to the committee, the senior secretary for foreign affairs and national security takes orders from the chief of staff. Then, what’s the role of the Office of National Security? The transition team explains that the national security office will be in charge of mid- and long-term strategies for security and comprehensive intelligence analysis. But a nation’s strategy and information are inseparable from what’s happening on a daily basis. If so, should the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Unification and the National Intelligence Service consult with both the Office of National Security and the presidential office of foreign affairs and national security every day? More importantly, who should security officials of foreign countries, including U.S. security advisor, talk to when the need arises?

Core members of the transition committee - including Kim Jang-soo, head of the foreign, defense and unification affairs subcommittee - couldn’t clearly explain the function of the new Office of National Security.

The difference between presidential secretaries for state affairs planning and future planning is also ambiguous, as their job could easily overlap with that of the existing secretary for economic affairs. Future planning can hardly be separated from the national agenda of the moment.

We wonder if there was a need for another office with a similar function? It would be more reasonable for the senior secretary for state affairs planning to concoct future planning as an extension to his responsibility to embody Park’s economic, social and welfare pledges. Park needs to collect views from incumbent and former government officials and experts rather than sticking to the original plan.
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