Yoo Eun-hae, a lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party, was officially appointed the new education minister in a ceremony held at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
“There are many important tasks. I ask you to try and realize an all-day care service for children up to elementary school students, and I believe the next important mission is to greatly reduce the cost of education by introducing free education for high school students,” the president told the new education minister, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.
Yoo, 56, will also serve as deputy prime minister for social affairs.
“The deputy prime minister for social affairs must also play a leading role not only in the education sector but also in other areas ranging from cultural, sports, welfare, environment and gender equality to people with disabilities, the elderly population and labor so that our society can become an inclusive nation,” the president told the newest cabinet member.
Yoo’s appointment came one day after the National Assembly again failed to meet the deadline for issuing a report on the outcome of her confirmation hearing last month.
The report is considered the parliament’s blessing for a new minister, though a minister does not require parliamentary confirmation to be appointed.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) objected to her appointment, citing ethical lapses such as the false registration of her daughter’s address to get her admitted to a better elementary school.
“We believe Yoo has adequately apologized for what she needed to apologize for and explained what needed to be explained,” the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said.
Still, her appointment is widely expected to cause further discord between the government and the opposition party, which has long accused the president of disregarding the opposition’s voice despite his offer to form what he calls a quasi-coalition government with the opposition.
“But then we must wonder if not appointing Yoo would enable bipartisan politics or joint governance,” Kim said.
Yoo was nominated in late August, along with four other new ministers, including new Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo.
Jeong and the three other new ministers were appointed Sept. 21. They are Commerce Minister Sung Yun-mo, Labor Minister Lee Jae-kap and Minister of Gender Equality and Family Jin Sun-mee