An age of economic technocrats arrives in South Korea
Yoon Suk-yeol has picked experienced officials for top posts, boding well for policy but raising risk of groupthink
In the short time since Yoon Suk-yeol’s inauguration, the new South Korean president has pursued policies that can be best summed up under the banner “Anything but Moon Jae-in.” Nowhere has the new administration’s efforts to differentiate itself from its predecessor been more apparent than in its appointments of new economic officials.
Thus far, Yoon has shown a preference for naming professionals and technocrats with lots of experience in their fields. This is a change from previous administrations — liberal and conservative — that have tended to fill key ministerial positions with political friends or prominent university professors.
This difference suggests that Yoon’s economic team will do away with more ideology-driven experiments like the Moon government’s pursuit of “income-driven economic growth.” It is likely to emphasize the need for economic growth, while following a conservative budgetary policy that avoids budget deficits.
But the new age of the economic technocrats is not without risks. The members of Yoon’s team have similar backgrounds and thus could be prone to groupthink. And his appointment of a prime minister and chief of staff who also have economic backgrounds raises the possibility that they may seek to intervene in the activities of the agencies where they spent much of their professional lives working.
A TEAM OF (MOSTLY) EXPERTS
A survey of Yoon’s economic appointees makes clear that they by and large have abundant professional experience related to their positions.
Choo Kyung-ho, the new minister of economy and finance, has worked in economy-related government agencies for some 30 years, including Economic Planning Board (EPB) and as vice minister of finance. He has also been head of the Office for Government Policy Coordination. Interestingly, he is the only team member who
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