Park planning to replace ministers, official says

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Park planning to replace ministers, official says

President Park Geun-hye will soon replace the ministers in her cabinet who will seek reelection as lawmakers next year, a senior source from the ruling party told the JoongAng Ilbo on Wednesday.

“The Blue House has checked directly and indirectly with the ministers who are expected to run in the next general election about their intentions,” said the source. “Most of them said they will run.”

Five sitting lawmakers from the Saenuri Party currently serve as ministers in Park’s cabinet. Choi Kyung-hwan, the deputy prime minister for the economy, and Hwang Woo-yea, the deputy prime minister for education, are veteran lawmakers.

Yoo Il-ho, the minister of land, infrastructure and transport, is a two-term lawmaker, while Yoo Ki-june, the minister of oceans and fisheries, is a three-term lawmaker.

Minister of Gender Equality and Family Kim Hee-jung is a second-term lawmaker and will seek reelection in the April election.

Two deputy prime ministers will have to stay in their jobs for some time to oversee Park’s reform initiatives in the financial industry and on history textbooks, the official said, and the Blue House has already started searching for possible successors for the other three ministers.

“The ministers will likely be replaced one by one before the general election,” another source from the ruling party told the JoongAng Ilbo. “Minister Yoo Il-ho, Minister Yoo Ki-june and Minister Kim are not handling urgent issues and it is my understanding that the Blue House has already started vetting their successors.”

According to election law, a minister must resign from his or her post 90 days before the polls. The deadline for the April general election is Jan. 14.

A senior presidential official denied that the Blue House had questioned each minister about his or her intentions but refused to say if a cabinet reshuffle was imminent.

Another presidential aide told the JoongAng Ilbo on Wednesday that a reshuffle will come before the end of the year.

BY SER MYO-JA, NAMGUNG WOOK [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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