The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated..

It seems opposition efforts to spare the South Korean Ministry of Unification were not entirely successful. Yonhap is reporting that even though the ministry will retain its name, much of the rest of it is on the chopping block.

Sources said that if the ministry is retained, its five divisions and one office may be reduced to a single office and three bureaus, with part of its work transferred to the other ministries.

The ministry’s five division headquarters — including unification policy, economic cooperation and cultural exchange — are likely to be reorganized into smaller bureaus, with public relations and information analysis to come under the direct control of the minister.

The office in charge of the Kaesong industrial complex may be turned over to the newly created Ministry of Knowledge-based Economy.

However, the ministry may retain control of inter-Korean dialogue headquarters, the inter-Korean transit office, and a settlement support team for people who have fled North Korea.  (Yonhap)

Although I personally favor an engagement policy with the DPRK, sending the signal that MoU standard practices will no longer be tolerated might actually encourage the DPRK to use donated funds and supplies in an acceptible way.  Remember: carrots AND sticks.  See the game theory here.  However, since the DPRK’s new game seems to play the US, China, Russia, and South Korea off of each other, some are concerned that pushing the DPRK too hard on accoutability and transparency in managing their donations might simply shift North Korea more firmly into China’s corner–which according to Lankov, they already have a strong incentive to do… 

Original Post: 2/8/2008
In the political shake up following the recent South Korean elections, incoming President Lee Myung-bak floated the idea of merging the Ministry of Unification (responsible for the North Korea protfolio) with the South Korean Foreign Ministry.  The story is here.

Today, Reuters is reporting that the Unification Ministry is here to stay.  Afterall, the first rule of bureaucracy is, “Why have one ministry when you can have two at twice the cost!” 

South Korean lawmakers have agreed to spare the ministry responsible for relations with North Korea and reject a call for its closure made by the president-elect, local media reported on Saturday.

The compromise allows the Unification Ministry to stay while lawmakers try to strike a deal to shut other ministries in a plan backed by Lee to streamline government, local media reported lawmakers as saying.

Critics say Lee’s proposal to close the ministry primarily responsible for relations with North Korea could send the wrong signal to Pyongyang, which has long accused Lee’s conservative party of plotting to keep the peninsula divided.

The Unification Ministry has been at the centre of criticism that the outgoing government had been too soft on the impoverished North, pouring aid across the border despite internationally condemned missile and nuclear tests. (Reuters)

The full article can be found here:
South Korea to keep ministry on North: media
Rhee So-eui

New gov’t to downsize Unification Ministry


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