Blue House brings back economic policy post

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Blue House brings back economic policy post

The Blue House said Thursday that it revived the position of policy chief of the presidential secretariat to oversee economic and social issues and expanded the role of the national security office to more effectively manage foreign, defense and North Korea strategies.

The new organizational structure of the presidential secretariat was announced Thursday by Yoon Young-chan, senior secretary for communication. According to Yoon, a cabinet meeting took place in the afternoon to approve the changes.

The secretariat of President Moon Jae-in will have two minister-level chiefs, the chief of staff and the policy chief. The number of senior secretaries will be reduced from 10 to eight.

According to the new organizational plan, the Blue House will have four main offices: the office of secretaries, the office of policy, the office of national security and the presidential security service. The policy office is a new addition in the Moon Blue House.

The office of secretaries, managed by the chief of staff, will have political, civil, social reform, communication and personnel affairs senior secretaries.

The newly created office of the policy chief will have three senior secretaries and two advisors. Senior secretaries for employment, economy and social affairs will work with the policy chief. Economic and science and technology advisors will also assist the policy chief.

During the Roh Moo-hyun presidency, the Blue House introduced the policy chief post to push forward national agendas. The post was kept in the Lee Myung-bak Blue House but scrapped by Moon’s predecessor Park Geun-hye.

Another major change in the Moon Blue House is the bolstered role of the National Security Office. The senior secretary for foreign affairs and national security, who was under the chief of staff, will be scrapped, and the role will be served by the second deputy head of the National Security Office.

“We largely strengthened the functions and roles of the National Security Office in order to better manage the urgent foreign and security crisis,” the Blue House said in a press release.

The Blue House said the National Security Office will take over the jobs formally handled by the foreign, defense and unification secretaries in order to prevent any confusion. The head of the National Security Office will oversee all issues concerning inter-Korean relations, foreign affairs and defense strategy, it said.

A national crisis management center will also be established under the head of the National Security Office to actively counter any emergency, the Blue House said.

The changes are intended to create a more effective presidential office that will not reign over the ministries, the Blue House said.

Earlier in the morning, the Blue House announced a series of unconventional appointments to form the presidential secretariat.

Lee Joung-do, deputy director-general for administrative affairs and safety budget of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance’s Budget Office, was named the secretary for general affairs. It is seen as a rare move to appoint a career public servant, not a longtime confidante, to the post in charge of overlooking financial and personnel affairs of the Blue House. In the past administrations, the job was held by a key associate of the president.

Moon also named Cho Hyun-ock, a visiting politics professor at Ewha Womans University, as the senior secretary for personnel affairs.

Yoon Young-chan, former vice president of the internet portal Naver, was named senior secretary for public affairs. Kwun Hyuk-ki, former deputy spokesman of the National Assembly, was named to head the presidential press center.

Meanwhile, Moon accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who took office in 2015 during the Park government. Hwang had served as acting president since December following the impeachment of Park till Moon’s presidential inauguration on Wednesday.

Yoo Il-ho, the deputy prime minister for economic affairs, became the acting prime minister of the Moon administration. He hosted the cabinet meeting that approved the Blue House restructuring plan.

Moon also accepted the resignation of Park Sung-choon, the minister of patriots and veterans affairs. Park had led the ministry since 2011, and his controversial, conservative policy has often faced fierce protests by progressives.

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