President Lee Myung-bak is reportedly considering replacing some of his aides and Cabinet members in February as he completes his third year in office.
Lee, first of all, has to name a new senior presidential secretary for economic affairs to replace Choi Joong-kyung, who was appointed as the minister of knowledge economy last week.
“As for the vacancies in Cheong Wa Dae, nominations can take place before the Lunar New Year’s holidays,” Lee’s spokesperson Kim Hee-jung said Monday morning. The holidays start on Wednesday.
Among the candidates being screened to succeed Choi are Public Procurement Service chief Noh Da-rae, vice finance minister Lim Jong-ryong and former chief of the National Statistical Office Kim Dae-ki.
The presidential spokesperson denied, however, any plans for replacement of existing senior members in the presidential office or a Cabinet reshuffle.
“There are no plans for a Cabinet shakeup,” she said.
“There is no possibility of replacing existing Cheong Wa Dae officials.“
Lee was yet to decide on a minor Cabinet shakeup, the Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unnamed source in the presidential office.
Agriculture Minister Yoo Jeong-bok last week offered to resign over the worst-ever foot-and-mouth disease outbreak once ongoing quarantine efforts contain the animal epidemic.
Other possible candidates of the partial Cabinet shakeup include ministers of environment, finance, unification and land. Environment Minister Lee Man-eui and Land Minister Chung Jong-hwan have served since the beginning of the Lee administration three years ago.
The president could also name the new chairman of the Board of Audit and Inspection. The chief state auditor’s post has been empty for the past four months after Kim Hwang-sik became prime minister in October. Lee had named his former aide Chung Tong-ki as the BAI chairman, but Chung withdrew over criticism of his close personal ties to the president and the high salaries he earned at a law firm after quitting as a prosecutor.
On Monday, Lee appointed Song Suk-ku, president of Gachon University of Medicine and Science, as the new chief of a presidential advisory panel for social integration.
Lee also commissioned 32 others as members of the Presidential Commission on Social Cohesion.
By Kim So-hyun (email@example.com