Friday, July 12, 2002

Korea gets its first female Prime Minister - This moves has come against the backdrop of Women's Week being hosted by the Ministry of Gender Equalityin Seoul. Although the position of prime minister in Korea carries limited power it is nonetheless a significant move by the Kim administration as it struggles to gain public support for the MDP in the lead up to December's presidential elections. For the Korean readers find an articlehere. Interestingly she was previously the president of the presitgous Ewha Womens University and a Princeton graduate in Theology....this makes an interesting choice for prime minister.

Other changes include Kim Jung-kil as the new minister of national defense, Kim Sung-jai as minister of culture and tourism, Lee Sang-chul as minister of information and communiction, Kim Sung-ho as minister of health and welfare, Kim Ho-shik as minister of maritime affairs and fisheries, Kim Jin-pyo as minister for government policy coordination, and finally Kim Suk-jae has become the new chairman of the Emergency Planning Commission.

The good news is that this time there were no changes at the Ministry of Planning and Budget. This cabinet shuffle is the third that I remember in my two and half years at the MPB and the first that didn't change the MPB minister.

The administration, struggling to gain popularity has yet again resorted to a cabinet shuffle. This is a desperate move to make people think the administration is above corruption, filled with a vision and purpose and in touch with the people. Nice try, but no cigar. The problems facing the incumbent administration are too numerous to be overshadowed by some high profile shuffling. The president's sons are corrupt, the Sunshine Policy is again under fire, the very procedures of engagement with North Korea are being investigated after four plus one South Korean soldiers died last month, and US is backing away from talks with the North. The dismal showing of the MDP in the June provincial elections is indicative of how far the MDP has slipped in the polls of late and I doubt very much that a new female PM or new defense minister is going to be enough to turn things around.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui