South Korean President Kim Dae-jung appointed the country’s first woman prime minister Thursday in a reorganization said to be an attempt to revive the government’s image. This reorganization includes the replacement of seven ministers. The new Prime Minister, Chang Sang, 62, earned a doctorate in philosophy from Princeton University and is currently president of Ewha Women’s University. She also is a consultant on Korean reunification. Representing a dramatic shift in a traditionally male-dominated culture, her appointment to the second ranking executive position is pending ratification by the National Assembly. “The 21st century is the era of globalization,” said chief cabinet secretary Park Jie Won, “It greatly depends on women for prosperity. For that reason, the president appointed the first female prime minister,” according to the New York Times.
According to the 2001 US State Department Report on Human Rights Practices in South Korea, two women occupy senior positions in government – serving as the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Gender Equality. Sixteen women legislators, including one who chairs a committee on women’s affairs, were elected to the 273-seat National Assembly in April 2000.