And Now, the Ruling Party

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And Now, the Ruling Party

President Kim Dae-jung will put forth Wednesday a comprehensive plan for revamping his ruling Millennium Democratic Party, his lineup of presidential secretaries and his cabinet.

Reformers within the ruling party have been demanding changes in those areas since the MDP was swept in the Oct. 25 by-election by the main opposition Grand National Party.

Mr. Kim will lay out the shakeup in a meeting of the party's top decision makers, the Supreme Council. All 12 council members resigned Nov. 2 in part to take responsibility for the by-election defeat, but they will gather again to hear the president's plans.

"The main focus of the Blue House meeting with the Supreme Council members will be the leadership shake-up," a ruling party insider said on the condition that his name not be revealed. "The president will not shy away from mentioning his plans for Kwon Roh-kap and Park Jie-won."

Mr. Kwon, who resigned from the Supreme Council under pressure last December, is part of the ruling party's Donggyo-dong faction along with Mr. Park, the senior secretary for policy and planning.

The faction, which is composed of old-school Kim loyalists, has been criticized for exerting too much influence in party and state affairs.

The ruling party has been awaiting the president's return from Brunei, where he attended meetings of the Association of South East Asian Nations forum. He is seen as the only person who can sort out the intra-party turmoil brought on by the various factions and presidential hopefuls vying for the limelight.

Mr. Kim was briefed late Tuesday evening by his aides on proposed changes to the party. Insiders said Mr. Kim will have a fairly easy time deciding the fate of his cabinet, the party leadership and the Blue House aides. Dealing with the calls for the political retirement of Mr. Kwon and Mr. Park, two of his most trusted aides, is more sensitive.

Prime Minister Lee Han-dong and the economic team lead by Jin Nyum could be the first to go, the analysts said. Lee Sang-joo, the chief of staff who took office just two months ago, may be out as well.

Mr. Kim is expected to persuade the Supreme Council members to stay, while changing the top four party leaders with the exception of Chairman Han Kwang-ok.

Presidential aides hinted that President Kim can fire Mr. Park, who has been key in seeing through the sunshine policy, and force Mr. Kwon to keep out of politics.

If the president parts ways with the two, the role of Mr. Han, also a trusted aide and line of communication between Mr. Kim and the rank-and-file party members, may become more important.

The president's inner-circle, however, is reportedly against dropping Mr. Park and Mr. Kwon as neither has been accused of any specific misdeed.

Meanwhile, the party reformers warned that they will launch a petition drive within the party to force out the Donggyo-dong faction if the president's measures are not satisfactory.

by Kim Chong-hyuk

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