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Presidential secretary for economy and finance

Posted April. 18, 2017 07:15,   

Updated April. 18, 2017 07:20

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Presidential secretary for economy and finance is the most senior position among six presidential secretaries under senior presidential secretary for economic affairs and is often called the "king secretary." Presidential secretary for economy and finance controls key economic government organizations including the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the Financial Services Commission and the Fair Trade Commission, and determines key economic policies. It is a fast track for elite officials given that top officials from the Ministry of Strategy and Finance are often selected and are later promoted to a deputy minister. Every official wants the job in the early stage of an administration.

The first secretary for economy and finance for former President Lee Myung-bak was Kim Dong-yeon who was called a “legendary man with a high school diploma.” After returning to the Ministry of Strategy of Finance, he served as the head of the budget office, the second vice minister and then the head of the Office of Government Policy Coordination. Joo Hyung-hwan, the first secretary for economy and finance for former President Park Geun-hye, served as the first deputy minister of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance and then Industry, Trade and Energy minister. Yim Jong-yong is a rarity given his experience including the second secretary for economy and finance under the Lee administration and the first vice minister of Strategy and Finance, the head of the Office of Government Policy Coordination, and the president of the NH Financial Holdings. Yim was also appointed as chairman of the Financial Services Commission by the Park administration.

While it is a key position, it can be burdensome at the end of an administration. Yoon Jong-won, who served as the secretary for economy and finance at the end of the Lee administration, left the presidential office four months before the end of the president’s term and moved to the IMF in Washington as a director. There was a rumor that had he who is close to Hyun Oh-seok, former deputy minister for economic affairs, been in Korea, he could have served as a deputy minister. Choi Won-mok, who served as the secretary for economy and finance for four months as Hyun’s successor and also served as presidential secretary for state affairs Planning left the Ministry of Strategy and Finance after serving as the head of the planning and coordination office. Today, few want to use officials who served for the presidential office of the previous administration.

Kim Cheol-joo, the last presidential secretary for economy and finance under the Park administration, is said to have moved to the deputy dean of the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI). Some say that the position seems to be sufficient for him as it is not a large global organization such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. While some say that it is not a bad choice as he will be abandoned under the new administration, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth as it seems to reflect the presidential aides who are left unattended. When a new administration comes in, official-turned-presidential aides are stigmatized as those who supported the previous administration. It is a national loss to stigmatize elite officials who were fostered with taxpayers’ money simply because they served for the presidential office.