A New Push for Shutdown?1)
On September 12, Minister Kim Hyun-sook of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MOGEF) resigned. Kim was the first minister of MOGEF in the Yoon Seok-yeol government, and she had been in charge of its reorganization, agreeing with President Yoon's pledge to abolish the ministry during her parliamentary confirmation hearing. Kim was one of the co-organizers of the 2023 World Scout Jamboree in Saemangeum, an international youth camping event held in South Korea this year. However, the jamboree was criticized for a lack of preparation, poor facilities and hygiene and continuous occurrence of heat-related illnesses. In this regard, the MOGEF had overall responsibility for the management and operation of the jamboree, as the requirement to establish the 2020 Jamboree Organizing Committee rested solely with the MOGEF based on Special Act on Support for the 2023 Saemangeum world scout jamboree. The absence of Minister Kim Hyun-sook and members of the ruling party at a plenary meeting of the Gender Equality and Family Committee on August 25 led to calls for her dismissal and a petition drive by civil society organizations calling for her removal. Kim apologized for her role in the jamboree's mismanagement, but eventually resigned, leaving her position vacant.
In response to this absence, on September 13, President Yoon nominated Kim Haeng as the ministerial candidate of MOGEF. In the briefing after the nomination announcement, Kim agreed with the abolition of the MOGEF, she emphasized the dignity of life and the value of the family during the ministry's existence. This shows that she, like her predecessor Kim Hyun-sook, is in favor of abolishing the MOGEF, which is focused on protecting youth and families. The Ministry was established to promote gender equality, including the protection of women's rights, and according to Article 42 of the Government Organization Act, the Minister of Gender Equality and Family is obligated to oversee the planning of women's policies and the promotion of women's rights and status, as well as youth and families. In this regard, some have criticized Kim's insufficient policies for women's rights and gender equality. The National Women's Committee of the Democratic Party said of Kim, "The function and status of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family should be strengthened, and everything that creates a social atmosphere without violence against women, career interruption, and single-parenting, including the sexist structure of our society, is an important task of the ministry." The Committee emphasized the need for policies to protect women's rights, referring not only to family-oriented policies but also to the need to recognize the structural gender discrimination that still exists. As the MOGEF enters a new phase, it seems that various voices will emerge regarding the existence and policy direction of the ministry.
1) Kye Seung-hyun, "Kim Haeng, Ministerial Candidate, "I Will Exit the Ministry Dramatically"", Yonhap News Agency, September 14, 2023