More changes to gov’t announced

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More changes to gov’t announced


Park Geun-hye

The education minister will assume deputy prime minister status and be responsible for education, society and culture, President Park Geun-hye announced in a cabinet meeting yesterday.

She also said the Ministry of Security and Public Administration will be renamed the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, the name it held from 1998 until 2008. Its control of government human resources will be transferred to the prime minister’s office and a “human resources innovation agency,” according to Yoo Min-bong, senior presidential secretary for state planning.

The prime minister’s office will also control another new agency to be responsible for national safety.

The two agencies will be headed by deputy ministers whom the government has yet to nominate.

The changes will be cemented in an amendment to the Government Organization Act that the administration plans to submit to the National Assembly next week. Under the amendment, the second phase of the Park administration will have 17 ministries, five agencies and 15 services after the addition of two agencies and two services.

The government’s attempt to reorganize itself in just a year is “heartbreaking,” said Yoo, a former bureaucrat and professor of public administration.

The latest changes come eight days after President Park unveiled a blueprint for restructuring the government while apologizing for the government’s poor handling of the Sewol disaster in an address to the nation on May 19. At that time, she didn’t mention she would establish another deputy prime ministerial post.

Yoo said the president recognized the need for fine-tuning control of economic affairs, diplomacy, security and other policy fields.

“Policy adjustment in fields outside of economic affairs, diplomacy and security should be made more efficient and a graver responsibility should be assigned [by having another figure assume responsibility],” President Park was quoted as saying by her senior secretary.

Another Blue House official said the installation of a new deputy prime ministerial post is to be interpreted as a “signal” of changes in Park’s management style. She will be partly distributing her own power, which some critics have claimed is excessive, to a new prime minister and two deputy prime ministers. Currently, the finance minister is also deputy prime minister for economic affairs.

Prime ministers in Korea have little power, but they are forced to step down whenever a national scandal or disaster occurs to assume government responsibility. Prime Minister Chung Hong-won tendered his resignation in the wake of the April 16 ferry accident that took at least 288 lives.

A deputy prime minister for education is not entirely new. A similar post was created in 2001 under the Kim Dae-jung administration but was scrapped with the launch of the Lee Myung-bak administration in 2008.

The word play with the name of the Ministry of Security and Public Administration also has a history. The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs was renamed the Ministry of Public Administration and Security in 2008, which became the Ministry of Public Administration and Security in February 2013.

With the name change, the Park administration spent 60 million won ($59,000) to replace sign boards and business cards for the ministry officials. Park’s presidential transition team insisted that placing security ahead of public administration was a way to better cope with national disasters and safety.

When it changed the ministry’s name, the new administration also placed a new Central Disaster Relief Headquarters under the ministry.

Meanwhile, the president again asked the prosecution to find and arrest Yoo Byung-eun, the de facto owner of Sewol operator Chonghaejin Marine Company, which operated the capsized Sewol ferry, as soon as possible so that the truth about him and his family be uncovered. “Although the Yoo Byung-eun family, the essential cause of the disaster, is supposed to regret their wrongdoings, they are mocking the law and incurring public rage,” she said.


Correction and rebuttal statement by the Evangelical Baptist Church

The Korea JoongAng Daily, regarding the reports since April 16, 2014, about the Evangelical Baptist Church (EBC) and Yoo Byung-eun, is publishing the following corrections and an excerpt from the rebuttal statement by the EBC.


Through three past investigations by the prosecution, it has been revealed that Yoo and the EBC, also known as the “Salvation Group” and Guwonpa in Korean, are not related to the Odaeyang mass suicide incident. That was also confirmed by the prosecution in its official statement on May 21. The prosecution’s investigation also found that Yoo had not made an attempt to smuggle himself out of the country or seek political asylum in France. We, therefore, correct the concerned reports.

Yoo retired from his executive management position in 1997. He did not own any shares in the noted companies, nor had he managed operations or used the operating funds for personal reasons. There are no grounds to call him the actual owner and chairman of the company. As such, he did not provide any directives in regards to the overloading of the Sewol ferry or its renovation.

It was verified that the captain and crew members who abandoned ship at the time of the Sewol ferry accident are not members of the EBC. It has also been verified that the EBC does not own any shares of Chonghaejin Marine Company and did not engage in its management.

Rebuttal statement

The EBC’s position is that the museums in the United States and Europe can never authorize an exhibition unless the artistic value of an artist’s works is recognized by the screening committee, irrespective of the amount of money an artist donates. The EBC’s position is that the exhibitions were not a result of Mr. Yoo’s patronage or donation, and Yoo also has not coerced Chonghaejin and its affiliates to purchase his photos.

The EBC states that Yoo did not participate in the foundation of the EBC in 1981, and the church does not offer him the title “pastor.” It also says a significant part of the 240 billion won ($206 million) worth of assets suspected of belonging to the Yoo family are real estate properties owned by the farming associations, which had been established by church members.

The EBC states that there are certain churches in Korea that call the EBC a cult, solely based on differences between their’s and the EBC’s doctrines.

But the EBC does not worship a particular individual as a religious sect leader or preach any doctrine that contradicts the Bible.

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