Park names ally as her political affairs secretary

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Park names ally as her political affairs secretary

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Former Saenuri Party lawmaker Kim Jae-won, 51, a key member of a faction loyal to President Park Geun-hye, has been appointed the new senior presidential secretary for political affairs, replacing a former aide who stepped down after the party’s crushing defeat in April’s general election.

The Blue House reshuffle on Wednesday was the second since April 13, when the Saenuri Party lost its majority in the National Assembly and became the second-largest party.

In explaining why Kim Jae-won was fit for the role, Kim Sung-woo, senior presidential secretary for public affairs, said during a Blue House briefing that the former two-term lawmaker had gained various experiences in the National Assembly as a member of the Saenuri Party’s Supreme Council and the head of its strategic planning bureau.

Highlighting his previous role as President Park’s special adviser for political affairs, the Blue House official said Kim Jae-won “understands government philosophy” and that his track record will enable him to become a “bridge” between the presidential office and political circles.

Added to the list of new senior secretaries was Hyun Dae-won, 51, a professor of mass communications at Sogang University in Mapo District, western Seoul, who will take charge of so-called future strategy.

The Blue House praised the professor’s expertise in digital media and mentioned his experience as a member of the Innovation Economy Committee under the National Economic Advisory Council.

The senior secretary for educational and cultural affairs went to Kim Yong-seung, 59, vice president of the Catholic University of Korea in Bucheon, Gyeonggi, who was lauded for his “abundant field experience and expertise.”

Three new vice ministers were appointed as well.

Kim Hyung-suk, former presidential secretary for unification affairs, was named deputy head of the Ministry of Unification. Lee Jun-won, director general of the Food Industry Policy Office in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Lee Jung-sub, director of the Environment Ministry’s Environmental Policy Office, were promoted to the second-highest position in their respective ministries.

In a swift response to the appointment of Kim Jae-won as senior secretary for political affairs, Minjoo Party spokesman Lee Jae-kyung said in a statement that Kim is “believed to respect the National Assembly” because of his own experience in the legislature, and that the party looks forward to “amicably” solving issues with the Blue House through smooth communication.

However, the People’s Party, which won 38 seats in April’s general election to become the third-largest party in the legislature, called the replacement a “disappointment,” saying it didn’t seem to be much different from the last Blue House reshuffle.

People’s Party spokesman Son Kum-ju said in statement that the party couldn’t help but doubt the president’s intention to cooperate with the National Assembly and connect with the general public, because her new political aide seems to lack the ability to sincerely deliver thoughts outside the Blue House.

The infuriated spokesman, at one point, called Park’s close aides “sunflowers” who only try to serve their boss.

BY SHIN YONG-HO, LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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