Yoon to reshuffle presidential office to regain public trust

Presidential Chief of Staff Kim Dae-ki speaks during a press briefing at the presidential office in Yongsan District, Seoul, Thursday. Yonhap

President names Lee One-seok as prosecutor general

By Nam Hyun-woo

President Yoon Suk-yeol plans to carry out an overhaul of his office, including the creation of a new senior secretary position for policy planning, the presidential office said Thursday.

This is a follow-up measure to Yoon's remarks from his press conference marking his 100th day in office, Wednesday, during which he hinted at reshuffling the presidential office to regain the public's trust in the administration.

"Regarding the organization of the presidential office, we are now considering creating a new position of a senior secretary for policy planning," presidential Chief of Staff Kim Dae-ki said.

Korea International Trade Association Vice Chairman Lee Kwan-sup, left, speaks during the confirmation hearing of Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, right, at the National Assembly on Yeouido, Seoul, in this May 3 file photo. Korea Times photo by Oh Dae-keun

Although Kim did not announce who will be the new senior secretary, speculation is growing that Korea International Trade Association Vice Chairman Lee Kwan-sup will take the job, which will focus on coordinating various policies proposed by different senior secretaries.

"Lee is one of the leading candidates," a senior official at the presidential office said. "It will take time for us to confirm who will take the position."

During the press conference, Yoon said he is now "looking at the presidential office first" in order to accept negative public opinion on his choice of ministers and presidential secretaries and fix problems to better serve the people. The president has been suffering from low approval ratings, which are largely attributed to his selection of controversial secretaries and ministers.

According to a poll by Rnsearch at the request of NewsPim, Wednesday, Yoon's job approval rating stood at 30.2 percent, with 67.6 percent of 1,027 respondents having a negative view of his performance.

Following Yoon's remarks, there has been mounting speculation that the president may consider reinstating the post of chief policy secretary, which Yoon himself scrapped after taking office in May, given its role of controlling and coordinating various policies in previous administrations.

The senior official said, however, that the new position will be different from the post of chief policy secretary in the past, and that the Yoon government will "continue making efforts to streamline the presidential office."

Along with the new position, the chief of staff said the presidential office will announce some changes in its public relations office on Sunday. Multiple reports have claimed that Yoon has already tapped his former spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye for various posts related to public communications, including the post of senior secretary for public relations or a new spokesperson.

New Prosecutor General Lee One-seok answers reporters' questions at the Supreme Prosecutors' Office in Seocho District, Seoul, Thursday, after President Yoon Suk-yeol nominated him for the position. Yonhap

Meanwhile, Yoon nominated Lee One-seok, deputy chief prosecutor of the Supreme Prosecutors' Office, as the first prosecutor general of his administration.

According to the Ministry of Justice, Minister Han Dong-hoon recommended Lee, 53, as the new head of the country's prosecution, Thursday, and Yoon gave his approval later that day.

Lee has been serving as acting prosecutor general for the past three months after Kim Oh-soo left the position on May 7 in the wake of the inauguration of Yoon. Lee is acknowledged for his stable management of the prosecution since Kim's resignation.

Fair Trade Commission chairman nominee Han Ki-jeong

Lee is a Seoul National University graduate and spent most of his professional career investigating high-profile corruption cases. When he was at the Suwon District Prosecutors' Office in 2007, Lee worked with Yoon, who was at the Supreme Prosecutors' Office then, to investigate allegations over Samsung Group's slash funds. In 2017, Lee also investigated the corruption scandal of impeached former President Park Geun-hye.

Also, Yoon tapped Seoul National University Prof. Han Ki-jeong as the new Fair Trade Commission chief.

An expert well versed in insurance and commercial law, Han has also assumed many posts as a committee member of various government agencies, including the finance ministry and the financial regulator.

The nominee, a Seoul native, earned a bachelor's degree in law at Seoul National University in 1986 and received a doctoral degree at the University of Cambridge in Britain in 1996.

Both nominees will have to undergo National Assembly confirmation hearings, but the president will be able to appoint them without the legislature's approval.
Nam Hyun-woo namhw@koreatimes.co.kr

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