SEOUL, FEB. 19 -- President-elect Roh Tae Woo, who has pledged to forge a new political era for South Korea, today announced a 24-person Cabinet that includes eight ministers currently serving under outgoing President Chun Doo Hwan.
The opposition denounced the Cabinet selections, saying Roh's government will be a carbon copy of the Chun regime. Many political analysts expressed surprise at the number of holdovers, and one traditionally pro-Roh newspaper in Seoul described the new Cabinet as "failing to provide a fresh orientation suitable for a popularly elected government."
The appointments may disappoint many Roh supporters who had been hoping for real political change. But many analysts pointed out that keeping some of the ministers who were responsible for the country's economic growth and last year's elections may be a politically astute move on Roh's part.
Roh had promised to include opposition members in his Cabinet, but there are none. The president-elect's aides blamed the main opposition parties for refusing Roh's request to help out by nominating Cabinet members. "The general consensus is that there's no freshness -- it's a continuation of Chun Doo Hwan," said a top official in the Reunification Democratic Party, the largest opposition group.
About two weeks ago, Roh raised hopes for substantial political change by naming Lee Hyun Jae as the new prime minister. Lee is a former university administrator best known for having once resigned his post rather than carry out a crackdown that Chun ordered on student activism.
Today's reappointments included the foreign, justice, interior and finance ministers. Chun's trade minister was named deputy prime minister for economic planning. The director of the country's powerful intelligence agency, Ahn Moo Hyuk, also will stay in his non-Cabinet post, despite Roh's campaign pledge to clean up the agency, which has been accused of violating civil rights by surveillance and harassment of political dissidents.
One western diplomat said the new Cabinet indicates a continuation of South Korea's successful economic and foreign policies. But he also said the Cabinet's makeup "leaves some question marks" over the direction of Roh's government.
"Roh and the prime minister talk about a new style, but they have retained a lot of old ministers," he said.
The only key post to change hands was the Defense Ministry, where Chung Ho Yong is being replaced by Oh Ja Bok, a former chief of staff of the South Korean armed forces. Roh, a classmate of Chung's in the Korea Military Academy, reportedly had asked Chung to remain as the defense chief but he refused. Oh, the new defense minister, is a Korean War veteran viewed as a relatively nonpolitical professional soldier.