A long-overdue reshuffleDeputy Prime Minster for the Economy Kim Dong-yeon and President Moon Jae-in’s policy chief Jang Ha-sung, the two top economic officials in the government, will likely be replaced because of their conflict. Kim, a typical bureaucrat, and Jang, a professor of business administration and civic activist before joining the Moon administration last year, have clashed frequently over the administration’s push for rapid increases to the minimum wage.
Blue House spokesperson Kim Eui-kyum brushed off widespread rumors about the reshuffle. “The president has not made any decision yet,” he said. Given their drastically different perspectives on the economy, however, their replacement is inevitable. The government must replace them as soon as possible to effectively deal with urgent economic issues facing the nation.
Many economic indicators suggest that Korea Inc. is headed for a full-blown recession, as seen in the simultaneous decreases in production, consumption and investment. Due to the government’s push for anti-market policies epitomized by the so-called income-led growth policy — which is aimed at boosting the economy by raising the wages of people with low incomes and creating jobs in the public sector — the corporate sector’s industrial investment has rapidly shrunk. There are alarming signs from our mainstay industries, including car-making and semiconductors. Many experts attribute our deepening economic woes to the conflict between Kim and Jang.
Nevertheless, the Blue House and ruling Democratic Party are poised to press ahead with the controversial income-led growth plan. In a speech on Thursday at the National Assembly, Moon reiterated the need for his administration to continue its economic experiments.
But rumors about who will take the place of the two officials are dashing the public’s expectations. Sources in the presidential office said that Kim Su-hyun, senior presidential secretary for social affairs, will most likely replace Jang. Kim has been under attack for his high-tax, anti-market approach toward reining in soaring real estate prices. The Blue House is trying to find a replacement for the deputy prime minister for the economy among a pool of candidates, including Hong Nam-ki, director of the Office for Government Policy Coordination under the prime minister.
The economic situation does not call for another experiment with half-baked economic policies. We urge the Blue House to fill the two posts with figures that the market trusts.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 3, Page 34
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