New Cabinet Forecast

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New Cabinet Forecast

Economic Reform Is Called Aim of Reshuffling

President Kim Dae-jung is likely to reshuffle his cabinet at the end of January, a Blue House official said Monday, adding that the new focus will be on additional economic reform, plus strategies for the effective leadership of complex national affairs as the chief executive enters the second half of his term. Mr. Kim goes from being the most powerful man in South Korea to being a private citizen in late 2002.

The official added that the planned reshuffle will include changing the economic team responsible for policy failures. The new team will inject more public money into the ailing financial system and oversee the liquidation of financial institutions splashing in red ink.

He noted that this step is inevitable considering the president's intention to foster the nation's information technology industry based on a stable economy. This requires completing reforms in the public, financial, corporate and labor sectors, he said.

The official hinted that the reshuffle is most likely to take place after the National Assembly's hearing on an additional injection of public funds. The hearings last from Jan. 16 to Jan. 20.

He also said that information and biotechnology experts are likely to have a priority in being named to cabinet posts. The recent appointment of Namgoong Suek, former minister of information and communication and former CEO of Samsung SDS, as chief policymaker of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party was in the same vein.

Other Blue House sources said that Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Noh Mu-hyun -- who rattled the ruling party by calling Kim Joong-kwon, the new ruling party chairman, an "opportunist" -- is likely to step down. They said that some personnel in the national security team will also be changed.

In face of the expected reshuffle, the ruling party has decided to introduce a bill Tuesday in the National Assembly promoting the finance and economy minister and the education minister, to vice premier positions. The measure also establishes a separate ministry on women's affairs.

by Kim Jin-kook

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