| President-elect Park Geun-hye on Sunday completed the selection of her first Cabinet by announcing nominees to head 11 ministries and government agencies, including one for deputy prime minister for economy and strategy and finance minister. Compared to her first and second rounds of appointments in which she picked figures with excellent administrative abilities, such as those having backgrounds in military academies, judicial circles or ministries, the president-elect designated experts for her economic ministries and agencies. With these last selections, she has filled her administration with people from various backgrounds from the military, judiciary, government and major fields.
For the post of deputy prime minister for the economy and strategy and finance ministry, which was revived in five years, Hyun Oh-seok, head of the state-run Korea Development Institute who passed the 14th higher civil service exam, was named. Yoon Sang-jick, first vice minister of knowledge economy, was nominated for commerce, industry, trade and energy minister. Through these two nominations, President-elect Park seems to want stability over the transitional period of the administration rather than drastic change or innovation.
One surprise was the nomination of Kim Jong-hun, president of Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs and a former venture entrepreneur, to head the Future Creation and Science Ministry. The ministry will carry out the next chief executive`s plan to push forward her vision of a creative economy. She also displayed a strong will to execute her social welfare pledges by designating Jin Young, one of her closest aides, as health and welfare minister. Experts from government labs or academia filled economic bodies such as the Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Livestock Ministry, the Employment Ministry, the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry and the Land Ministry.
The nominee for deputy prime minister has received both positive and negative responses. While his experience and expertise in the field have been well received, his lack of charisma to overcome economic difficulties and being a familiar and not fresh face have not. If the presidential office tries to make all the decisions and have economic ministries carry them out, the deputy prime minister for economy will be a nominal position. The next president must delegate full authority to the deputy prime minister so that all economic ministries and branches can look in the same direction under him and focus on innovation. Future, Creation and Science Minister-nominee Kim Jong-hun has been criticized for lack of understanding of Korean society and administrative culture because he moved to the U.S. as a teenager and recently recovered Korean nationality.
President-elect Park put individual capability and expertise over fame or experience in the government in selecting her economic team. To know is one thing and to execute is another, however. Experts are often said to focus on one small aspect and thus must be careful not to miss the forest for the trees. This is because if ministers cannot establish control over their ministries early, the next administration뭩 vision of overcoming walls between ministries and thinking comprehensively will fail. The Cabinet nominations have also been criticized in that the nominees` regional backgrounds are hardly diverse and the number of women nominated for top posts was smaller than expected.
The posts of presidential chief of staff and senior secretaries of the presidential office remain empty and need to be filled soon to assist the next leader closely and carry out the transitional process smoothly. The inauguration is just one week left. President-elect Park is hoped to prove herself as a "well-prepared president" as she finishes nominations to round out the staff of the presidential office.