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On her way out, gender equality minister expresses 'regret'
2024-02-25
Gender Equality Minister Kim Hyun-sook expressed her remaining "regrets" on Wednesday after she tendered her resignation to President Yoon Suk Yeol the previous day.  
 
The future of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family is thus up in the air, some 23 years after its launch, as its fate has been precarious since the onset of the current administration, which has been keen to scrap it altogether.  
 
In his presidential campaign, Yoon pledged to abolish the Gender Equality Ministry and Family after questioning its necessity. However, he didn't immediately dismantle it after taking office in 2022, naming Kim as the minister in charge of its possible wind down.  

Yoon accepted Kim's resignation Tuesday, according to the Gender Equality Ministry and presidential officials.  
 
"Today is my last day on the job," Kim told reporters on her way to work in front of the government complex in central Seoul Wednesday. "I had hoped that the Gender Equality Ministry would work as a larger organization, but, unfortunately, that aspect is still left as homework."  
 
She said that she hopes the remaining tasks, such as abolishing the ministry, will go in a "good direction through an agreement between the rival parties after the general elections" slated for April.  
 
Presidential officials said that Yoon does not plan to name a successor to Kim and that the current vice minister will take over as acting minister.  
 
This comes some six months after Kim initially offered to resign over backlash on her poor management of the controversy-ridden World Scout Jamboree in Saemangeum, North Jeolla, in August last year. The jamboree faced criticism for an overall lack of preparedness as scouts faced severe weather conditions, including a heat wave and typhoon, leading to the early departure of some of the participants.
 
In October, Yoon named Kim Haeng, a former journalist and People Power Party (PPP) member who has served on the party's interim leadership committee, as his new gender minister nominee. However, Kim, also a former presidential spokesperson during the Park Geun-hye administration, soon withdrew herself from consideration in response to controversies raised during her parliamentary confirmation process.  
 
Thus, Kim Hyun-sook was kept on to helm the ministry for a little longer, as she had been initially appointed as its possible last minister.  
 
The Gender Equality and Family Ministry was launched during the liberal Kim Dae-jung administration in January 2001, taking from the Ministry of Health and Welfare tasks aimed at advancing women's rights and fighting gender discrimination.
 
It also faced being scrapped during the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration.
 
"Major tasks related to the livelihood of single-parent families, child care and support for youths at risk will be carried out without interruption while communicating closely with relevant organizations," Vice Gender Equality Minister Shin Young-sook said in a statement to reporters later Wednesday. 
 
In the past weeks, Yoon has undertaken a major reshuffle of his Cabinet, with some ministers wishing to run in the upcoming April 10 general elections.
 
On Tuesday, Yoon formally appointed Park Sung-jae, a lawyer and former head of the Seoul High Prosecutors' Office, as his new justice minister after a parliamentary report was adopted.  
 
With the resignation of Gender Equality Minister Kim, Yoon's second Cabinet of his five-year term appears complete.  
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