Fate of Gender Ministry rides on members of Yoon's transition team
They are Park Soon-ae, a professor at Seoul National University’s Graduate School of Public Administration, and Rep. Lee Tae-kyu of the People’s Party.
Park is a member of a sub-committee handling political, judicial and administrative affairs on Yoon’s transition team. In 2020, she served as the first female chief of the Korean Association for Public Administration, and in 2017, helmed a team within the Ministry of Economy and Finance in charge of evaluating the business performances of public organizations and quasi-governmental organizations.
Rep. Lee is a close aide to Ahn Cheol-soo, the head of Yoon’s transition team, and currently serves as a member of a different sub-committee in charge of planning and coordination. When Lee attended a program at Seoul National University’s Graduate School of Public Administration on national policy, Park was said to have been his professor.
A source from Yoon’s People’s Power Party (PPP), who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the JoongAng Ilbo Wednesday that Park will be "involved" in determining the fate of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.
Another source who’s a close aide of Yoon told the paper on the same day that discussions within Yoon’s transition team to reform “non-economic” government organizations will be led by Rep. Lee and participated in by Park. On the issue of abolishing the Gender Ministry, the source said the transition team would canvass various opinions from experts across different fields, but that in the end, Rep. Lee and Park will play “key roles” in devising the ministry’s reform plans.
The remarks come two days after Ahn told reporters during a press conference that Yoon’s campaign pledge to get rid of the ministry has “not been scrapped,” but refused to specify whether the ministry would be allowed to live on. Ahn said Yoon would choose from several “feasible policy directions” reported to him by his aides.
The ministry, which is supposed to advance women’s rights, has been accused by some men, and even some women’s civic groups, of intensifying gender rifts. Anti-feminists call the ministry’s very existence “reverse discrimination,” saying women shouldn’t be entitled to “special treatment.” Some feminist groups, on the other hand, argue that the ministry is needed to oversee the protection of women against sexual violence and to educate the public on gender equality.
During the presidential campaign, Yoon promised to abolish the ministry, a move that political pundits saw as a gambit to appeal to young male voters in their 20s and 30s.
The source from the PPP told the JoongAng Ilbo via phone Wednesday that Yoon was still “steadfast” in scrapping the Gender Ministry. However, with the local elections only three months away, the source said Yoon was “cautious” about angering female voters who want to keep the ministry alive, adding that the transition team could face backlash if it fails to approach the issue "delicately."
BY SOHN GUK-HEE, LEE SUNG-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]