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(News Focus) Tensions mount over Park's gov't reorganization plan
By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, Feb. 5 (Yonhap) -- President-elect Park Geun-hye's government reorganization proposal is brewing discontent among a number of ministries as they appear set to lose key roles and, consequently, aspects of their identities.

   Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan expressed his anger Monday denouncing Park's idea to transfer the foreign ministry's trade negotiating responsibilities to the industry and commerce ministry. Kim said the transfer would amount to "rocking" the Constitution.

   Rep. Chin Young, the deputy chief of Park's transition team, berated the minister by accusing him of "sophistry" and "ministerial selfishness."

   Other ministries and parties affected by the proposed rearrangement have also objected to the plan, citing such issues as the separation of roles and inefficiency.

   Park has defended her proposal and urged her ruling Saenuri Party to help pass all related bills in the National Assembly as the plan is subject to parliamentary approval.

   Saenuri and the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) agreed last week to handle the bills by Feb. 14. So far, the two sides have made little headway in talks to resolve their differences over the proposal.

   In addition to the foreign ministry, another key source of dispute is likely to be the Korea Communications Commission (KCC), which has served as the country's communications watchdog.

   According to Park's proposal, many of the KCC's personnel and roles will be transferred to the yet to be created future creation and science ministry under the reorganization plan. The DUP has also opposed the move, saying the KCC must remain as an independent body in order to ensure fair and impartial broadcasting.

   One standing member of the KCC reportedly expressed his frustration at a recent closed-door meeting, saying the watchdog will become a "shipwreck."

   The future creation and science ministry was one of Park's core campaign pledges designed to combine scientific and technological developments with industry in a way that would generate more jobs for the future.

   Critics have called it a "dinosaur ministry" in reference to the vast number of sectors it will oversee.

   The current education and science ministry, which is set to lose its jurisdiction over science affairs to the new ministry, has protested the transfer of its role in academic-industrial cooperation.

   Education ministry officials argue that academic-industrial cooperation is centered on having universities develop the talents industries require and is thus inseparable from education policy.

   Another source of tension is the proposed transfer of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) to the future creation ministry.

   NSSC officials cite the recommendations of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in arguing that the development and regulation of nuclear power should be handled separately.

   Until now, the education and science ministry has been responsible for research and development related to nuclear energy, while the NSSC has overseen safety issues.

   Transferring the NSSC to the new ministry would blur the line between development and regulation and weaken the commission's ability to monitor the nuclear power sector, according to the officials.

   In an apparent response to the protests, Park's transition team decided to transfer the research and development role to the industry and commerce industry.

   However, tensions still linger over the downgrading of NSSC's status from a government body overseen by a minister-level official to an affiliate of the future creation ministry to be headed by a vice minister-level official.

   The renaming of ministries has also been an issue, with the public administration and security ministry saying it sees little point in changing the order of its name to the Ministry of Security and Public Administration.

   Park included the renaming in her proposal to stress the importance of public safety amid a recent surge in violent crimes.

   "President-elect Park's views on the importance of safety are important, but if the (ministry's) roles remain the same, one should consider the administrative cost of renaming," said one Saenuri lawmaker, asking that he not be identified.

   hague@yna.co.kr
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