Moon names top economic advisers to begin reforms

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Moon names top economic advisers to begin reforms

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President Moon Jae-in on Sunday named his top economic advisers, including the nation’s top economic chief, as he hopes to address impending issues such as economic inequality and low growth.

Kim Dong-yeon, the president of Ajou University, was nominated by President Moon in a press briefing as the new finance minister and deputy prime minister for the economy.

For his chief of staff for policy, Moon tapped Chang Ha-sung, a professor of economics at Korea University.

“Kim has served in important positions in the Ministry of Planning and Budget,” said President Moon, “as well as the Ministry of Strategy and Finance and proven himself a competent economic official with macroscopic insight and the ability to control economic matters.”

Some of Moon’s key economic campaign pledges were to create jobs in the public sector and expand public welfare.

Moon said he would raise the necessary capital by increasing corporate taxes and restructuring government expenditures. The president’s decision to nominate Kim as the new economic chief is seen as move to realize such goals.

Kim served in a number of public positions throughout his career, including as director of strategic planning at the Ministry of Planning and Budget under the Roh Moo-hyun administration, during which he helped the administration outline key welfare policies.

The Ajou University president later served as the director general of the budget office at the finance ministry from 2010 to early 2012, during which he oversaw the budgetary plans of the central government, including fiscal policies and spending. Kim also worked as the second vice minister of the finance ministry.

Kim, who was born in Eumseong, North Chungcheong in 1957, spent his childhood in a shantytown near Cheonggyecheon in central Seoul. He took up a job at a local bank immediately following his graduation from high school.

Earning a bachelor’s degree through night school, Kim eventually passed the civil service exam in 1982 and started his career as a public official in 1993 at the Economic Planning Board, which later became a part of the current finance ministry.

President Moon highlighted Kim’s background during the press briefing, saying Kim will be able to empathize with the needs of the general public.

The appointment of Chang of Korea University as the new chief of staff of policy, a position newly created in the presidential office to oversee economic policies, is intended to push for economic democratization and overhaul the economic structure of Korea that is heavily centered around conglomerates, also known as chaebol.

The president added that Chang will be able to spearhead structural change in Korean society with his economic knowledge and past experience in trying to reform the corporate governance structure.

Along with Kim Sang-jo, the new nominee of the chief of the Fair Trade Commission, Chang is widely known for his stance against chaebol and has been considered an advocate of minor shareholders’ rights.

In 2006, he filed a lawsuit worth 13.9 billion won ($1.2 million) against Samsung to compensate for the losses incurred on minor shareholders when Chaeil Industries gave up on taking over convertible bonds of Everland.

He is the cousin of Chang Ha-joon, professor of economics at the University of Cambridge, known for his bestseller “23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.”

When asked how we would reform the current economic structure, Chang said he would push for policies to help small and medium companies succeed.

Kim Kwang-do, an economic professor at Sogang University who was picked as vice chairman of the National Economic Advisory Council, has advocated for changing the government’s spending policy to create jobs.


BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]

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