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(2nd LD) Moon picks new land minister in partial Cabinet shake-up

All News 16:45 December 04, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paras 5-6, 13-14)

SEOUL, Dec. 4 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Friday nominated a new land minister in a partial Cabinet shake-up, Cheong Wa Dae said, amid a fierce public backlash against the government's real estate policy.

Byeon Chang-heum, head of the Korea Land and Housing Corporation, also known as LH, was tapped as the new land and transport minister.

The nomination comes as Kim Hyun-mi, the current minister, has come under intense public criticism as of late after a series of government policies aimed at curbing skyrocketing property and rent prices was widely considered ineffective.

Despite efforts to stabilize the housing market, the average apartment price per 3.3 square meters in the capital rather soared 58 percent to 41.6 million won (US$37,585) during Moon's three-year presidency, which is 4.5 times the increase tallied for nine years under the preceding two conservative governments, according to data by the civic group Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice.

Cheong Wa Dae, however, explained that the nature of nominating a new land minister isn't centered around Kim's firing but around the government trying to meet new policy demands that would better suit the changing environment around the housing market.

"Minister Kim was a founding member (of Moon's Cabinet) and has done her duty," a senior Cheong Wa Dae official said.

Moon also picked new ministers of gender equality, interior affairs and welfare in the reshuffle.

Chung Young-ai, head of the Korea Foundation For Women, was nominated to lead the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, while Rep. Jeon Hae-cheol of the ruling Democratic Party was picked as the new interior and safety minister.

Kwon Deok-cheol, head of the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, was Moon's pick to lead the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

The three will replace Lee Jung-ok, Chin Young and Park Neunghoo, respectively.

This file photo shows Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mi holding a press conference at the government complex in Seoul on May 7, 2019, to announce government plans to build 300,000 homes in Seoul and adjacent areas to stabilize the housing market. (Yonhap)

Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae, who has been at the center of national headlines over the political tension between her and Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, was excluded from the reshuffle.

The nominees will face National Assembly confirmation hearings, the schedules of which have yet to be set.

The latest Cabinet shake-up marks the first time in 15 months that Moon carried out multiple minister nominations together. Moon has conducted one-minister Cabinet replacements when needed since the last multiple minister replacement nominations.

Moon is largely expected to carry out another Cabinet shake-up early next year, considering major political events ahead, such as the 2022 presidential election.


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