Park Hyun Young
The author is a correspondent in Washington, JoongAng Ilbo.
On April 1, 2021, a photo was posted on the official Twitter and Facebook accounts of US President Joe Biden. It contained a short caption. “Cabinet that looks like America.” After the first full cabinet meeting held after the Senate confirmed all the appointed by Biden, 25 people, including the US President, Vice President, secretaries and senior officials I was looking at the camera.
Many of the ministers are first. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was the first woman to hold this position. Lloyd Austin was the first African-American Secretary of Defense. Secretary of Transportation Pete Butigeg was the first openly gay minister. Deb Haaland was the first Native American to serve as Chief Cabinet Secretary. Avril Haines was the first woman to become Director of National Intelligence. Appointment decisions are based on experience and ability, freshness and unconventional.
Compared to the Biden Cabinet, President Yoon Seok-yul’s cabinet choices are outdated. It may be unfair to compare Yun’s choices with the Biden administration, which is considered to be the most liberal in history. However, Yun’s candidates are mainly men in their 60s, with 63.1% in the Reinan region graduating 42.1% and 52.6% graduating from Seoul National University. Of the 18 ministerial candidates and the White House Chief of Staff, only three are women, serving ministries with relatively small responsibilities and powers.
The mainstream of America is also white men. Why did Biden make another choice? It was his campaign to build a cabinet similar to the United States. He believes that the Cabinet should be a miniature of American society. A diverse and inclusive cabinet can implement policies that reflect the will of the people.
Biden’s administrative goal is to unify the divided America. The Biden administration is made up of 46.2% somen and 53.8% men, 50% white, 23.1% black, 15.4% Latin and 11.5% Asia, which is very similar to the American population.
Yun also talks about the unity of the people, but his approach is very different. He claims to look only at abilities, without making balanced choices. But in today’s world with a huge pool of talent, it’s very possible to make balanced promises from talented people. As Biden said, “Building a diverse team will lead to better results and more effective solutions to address the urgent crisis our country is facing.” Diverse identities provide different perspectives and insights, providing a comprehensive alternative solution. It can provide better advice to the president.
Cabinets that lack diversity go against global trends. It goes against the value of fairness that the younger generation wants. A cabinet meeting full of men in black suits may soon become the image of South Korea. It’s not natural to have only people of a particular gender or age group. It’s not what Korean society looks like. I am looking forward to seeing a cabinet that really resembles Korea today.