Leave intact the intrinsic function of the ministry

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Leave intact the intrinsic function of the ministry

The Ministry of the Interior and Safety has proposed a government reorganization outline to shutter the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, elevate the level of the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, and create an agency for ethnic Koreans living overseas. Regrettably, however, the revamp fell short of establishing an immigration office to draw skilled foreign workers to better address Korea’s low birthrate and thinning population.

The creation of an independent body on consular affairs and upgrading of the ministry of veterans affairs is meaningful. The consular office can better defend the rights of 7.32 million ethnic Koreans so that they won’t be discriminated against in their residing countries.

As Winston Churchill said, “A nation that forgets its past has no future.” Honoring the contributions and sacrifices of its ancestors is the duty of a nation. Respect for the families of patriots and veterans also has been neglected due to intense ideological disputes in Korea. The escalation of the veterans office to a ministerial level could better appease the scars from the Japanese colonial period and war to set the country’s path stronger for the future.

The two revamps can draw bipartisan support since the Democratic Party (DP) agrees to the need. But scrapping the gender ministry could face strong opposition from the DP-dominating legislature. Absorbing some of the welfare work into the Ministry of Health and Welfare could be challenged as the ministry already is oversized and overburdened.

The gender ministry has often derailed from its primary function so as to serve political purpose. The ministry had acted as if to defend the sexual offenses of former governors and mayors aligned to the DP. It was also biased toward a former DP lawmaker who was embroiled in allegations of corruption and abuses of funds for victims of sexual slavery for the imperial Japanese military during World War II. Much of the grounds leading up to the argument for the closure of the ministry came from the previous administration.

Nevertheless, an outright disbanding of the gender ministry is not a good idea. Although much of the systemic discrimination disappeared, women still suffer inequalities in child and family care and work. The glass ceiling hindering women’s advance on the social ladder remains high. The closure of the ministry could bring about a retreat in gender equality policy.

What matters is not a name change or blind reorganization simply based on the campaign promise of President Yoon Suk-yeol. Even if his administration pushes forward the change, it must leave intact the intrinsic function of the ministry to create a society without any gender discrimination.
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