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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Jan. 7)

All News 07:10 January 07, 2019

Moon's new start
President looking to regroup with Cheong Wa Dae reshuffle

An imminent reshuffle of Cheong Wa Dae secretariat is drawing keen public attention. According to the latest reports, President Moon Jae-in is likely to replace some senior presidential aides early this week. He is also expected to replace some Cabinet ministers in coming weeks.

The reshuffle comes at a critical time for Moon as he has just entered the third year of his five-year presidency, which has taken a blow with a visible decline in public support for his policies. Moon's job approval rating slipped to the 40 percent range last week, a huge drop from the record numbers he had achieved in the early stages of his presidency.

Cheong Wa Dae has also been hit by mounting criticism of some incidents that have seriously hampered public trust, including allegations that a special inspection team at Cheong Wa Dae conducted illegal surveillance of civilians and public servants for political purposes and exerted undue influence in personnel affairs at state agencies affiliated with ministries.

These allegations, on top of increasing public disapproval of its economic policies and various failures to deliver on the President's election pledges, have significantly aggravated public opinion of the Moon administration.

Many people are beginning to seriously doubt how the Moon administration is different the previous of administration of the impeached former President Park Geun-hye, who was criticized for her shortcomings as a leader and insensitivity to the people's hardships even before the massive corruption scandal that ultimately led to her early removal from office.

Cheong Wa Dae has faced mounting calls for change after the spying scandal. Moon is expected to replace his chief of staff Im Jong-seok who has been with him since the very beginning of his presidency. The public has been divided over the unlikely appointment of the former student activist to the post of presidential chief of staff. In recent months, Im has often been the target of criticism for the lack of discipline at Cheong Wa Dae.

The President is also reportedly considering replacements for other key posts, such as the secretary for political affairs and presidential press secretary. But Moon is likely to retain senior presidential secretary for civil affairs Cho Kuk, one of his most controversial aides. Cho is responsible for Cheong Wa Dae's special inspection bureau at the center of the spying scandal and has also been hit for a series of incomprehensible personnel decisions that have marred the Moon administration since its beginning.

The reshuffle should be an occasion to redeem the people's trust in the President by helping him better communicate with the people about their concerns. He should surround himself with people who are capable and trustworthy and can also offer sincere counsel when the President is going down the wrong path.

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