Yoon makes three appointments to presidential office
President Yoon Suk-yeol made three key appointments to the presidential office on Sunday as the administration struggles with a low approval rating.
The posts with new blood include those related public relations and national security, while one new post is being created despite Yoon's pledge to run a lean office.
Lee Kwan-sup, vice chairman of the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) and former vice trade minister, was appointed as senior presidential secretary for policy planning, a newly established position.
"In terms of people's livelihood and the policy agenda, he is the most suitable person to lead the realization of the key national tasks of the Yoon Suk-yeol administration by better communication and understanding among the people, ministries, and the presidential office," the presidential office said in a statement.
Lee previously served in various other positions in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, including deputy minister for energy and resources and deputy minister for industrial policy. He later served as the CEO of state-run Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power and later resigned from the position in January 2018 in opposition of the Moon Jae-in government's nuclear phase-out initiative.
Lee received a bachelor's degree in business administration at Seoul National University and a master's degree in public administration from Harvard Kennedy School.
In a briefing Sunday afternoon, presidential chief of staff Kim Dae-ki pointed to Lee's extensive experience as a traditional bureaucrat overseeing industrial and energy resources policies and said, "He is regarded for not only the ability to plan and coordinate all aspects of state affairs, but also for his sense on political affairs."
Kim Eun-hye, a former People Power Party (PPP) lawmaker and a spokesperson for President-elect Yoon in his transition process, was appointed as the new senior secretary for press affairs.
She formerly worked as a reporter and anchor at local broadcaster MBC and MBN. Kim was a presidential spokesperson from 2008 to 2010 during the Lee Myung-bak administration.
Kim recently ran to become Gyeonggi governor in the June 1 local elections but was defeated by 0.15 percentage points to Democratic Party (DP) candidate Kim Dong-yeon. She gave up her seat as a lawmaker representing Bundang District A in Seongnam, Gyeonggi, to run in the elections.
"We believe she has the best expertise in public relations and media," said presidential chief of staff Kim. "In particular, she has a very deep understanding of the president's political philosophy from her time serving as the public affairs director of the election campaign committee and the spokesperson for the president-elect and was determined to be the right person to properly communicate with the people and the media."
She will replace Choi Young-bum, who will in turn take on the role of special adviser on external relations.
Lim Jong-deuk, a former chief of staff at the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), was named as new second deputy national security adviser.
He replaces Shin In-ho, who stepped down from the post earlier this month due to health reasons.
Lim, a former Army two-star general, served as presidential defense secretary during the Park Geun-hye administration.
"He has served in major positions in the Ministry of National Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff," said chief of staff Kim, and is an "expert recognized in the fields of defense policy and military strategy" who will help Yoon government's security policies "to bolster seamless defense posture and demonstrate its national crisis management capabilities."
The appointments come amid the president's low approval rating, in part because of criticism over poor personnel choices.
"It is true I have many fears," Kim Eun-hye said during a press briefing Sunday. "I will work hard as a bridge to convey the expectations and wishes of the people with a humble attitude, and to properly convey the political philosophy of President Yoon Suk-yeol."
"There seems to be many people with regrets over the Yoon administration, which was launched with high expectations and hopes from the public," said Lee Kwan-sup. "I plan to do my best for a government that can achieve national unity by upholding fairness and common sense as originally set forth."
During his campaign, Yoon stressed slimming down the presidential office and eliminating any unnecessary posts once he came into office. But presidential officials have also expressed concern over a shortage of staff to carry out presidential office tasks.
With the creation of the senior presidential secretary for policy and planning position, the presidential office will be expanded from the current "two offices and five secretaries" structure to "two offices and six secretaries."
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]