|President Yoon Suk-yeol greets people at Jagalchi fish market in Busan on July 27, 2023./ Source: Presidency
AsiaToday reporter Lee Wook-jae
President Yoon Suk-yeol is expected to leave for summer vacation as early as this week or early August at the latest to start planning for the second half of the year.
Yoon is planning to spend two days shorter than his initial schedule as there are many pending national issues to be dealt with, including handling the aftermath of recent deadly downpours across the nation.
The president had a busy schedule responding to heavy rain damage as soon as he returned home from his trip to Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine to attend the NATO meeting in the middle of this month. As South Korea suffered damage after deadly heavy rain, Yoon’s vacation plan was completely canceled and the presidential office also refrained from mentioning his vacation schedule. In a meeting with reporters on July 24, an official at the presidential office said it is not a right time to discuss the president’s vacation schedule because there are many national issues to deal with.
Nevertheless, there are internal opinions that Yoon needs a short vacation as he has carried out a breathless schedule for diplomacy. As the president’s vacation also affects the domestic economy, he may go on vacation to the provinces this time.
However, Yoon is expected to focus most of his time on political planning during his upcoming vacation.
Most of all, many predict that personnel reshuffle as the driving force for state administration will be unveiled early August. Just as Yoon sought to stabilize state affairs by appointing Kim Eun-hye, senior secretary for public relations, and Lee Kwan-seop, senior secretary for state affairs, after going on a vacation last year, he is expected to review various options during his upcoming summer break. In fact, there are rumors in the political circle that Ministers of Industry, Science and Technology, and Environment would be replaced.
Granting special pardons on Aug. 15 Liberation Day is another issue for Yoon to consider. The Ministry of Justice is reportedly considering holding an amnesty review committee next week. Yoon’s final intention must be confirmed early next month to exercise his right to pardon, which is the president’s own authority.
From among businesspeople, Choi Gee-sung, a former head of Samsung’s now-disbanded Future Strategy Office, and his former deputy, Chang Choong-ki, as well as former Dong-A Socio Holdings chairman Kang Jeong-seok are among the names being talked about. Among politicians, potential beneficiaries are An Chong-bum, a former senior presidential secretary for policy coordination during the Park Geun-hye administration, and former Second Vice Culture Minister Kim Chong.
The upcoming Korea-U.S.-Japan summit to be held at the U.S. presidential villa Camp David on Aug. 18, shortly after Liberation Day, is also one of the issues that Yoon will focus on during his vacation. Yoon is expected to review various scenarios as trilateral cooperation among South Korea, the U.S., and Japan is expected to mark a new turning point, with the White House saying, “We will celebrate a new chapter in trilateral relations.”