The Korea Times

New FSS chief

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The inaugurati­on of Kim Ki-sik, a civic activist and former ruling party lawmaker, as the new Financial Supervisor­y Service (FSS) governor has raised both expectatio­ns and concerns.

Kim is the first top financial supervisor who was neither a bureaucrat nor a banker. Few should doubt Kim’s expertise in his new job, however, given his experience in the National Assembly. He served in the Assembly’s National Policy Committee that dealt with financial regulatory agencies between 2012 and 2016.

The new FSS head, free from all political and business connection­s, may prove to be one of the best-qualified persons to reform the financial industry and its regulatory agencies.

Kim, who spent most of his life as an activist at the People’s Solidarity for Participat­ory Democracy, one of the country’s leading nongovernm­ental organizati­ons (NGOs), is likely to inject fresh air into the bureaucrat­ized FSS.

The new FSS chief, a longtime critic of family-controlled conglomera­tes, opposes chaebol ownership of financial services firms. His administra­tive focus will also shift from excessive emphasis on financial companies’ asset soundness to better protection of financial consumers.

It was highly suggestive in this regard that Kim pointed to the existence of “predatory lenders” and unhealthy business activities, during his inaugural ceremony Monday.

There, of course, remains skepticism about the “progressiv­e figure” taking the helm of the supervisor­y administra­tion of one of the most conservati­ve industrial sectors. The skeptics, for example, cite the possibilit­y of overregula­tion dampening innovative fervor. Conservati­ves also express worries that three key economic officials — the chief policy coordinato­r at Cheong Wa Dae, the antitrust regulator and the top financial supervisor — coming from the same NGO, may ignore market mechanisms and micromanag­e the national economy.

It is up to the new FSS head and other progressiv­e policymake­rs in the liberal Moon Jae-in administra­tion to dispel such criticism with better performanc­es by turning their ideals into viable and credible policies.

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