The Korea Times
New FSS chief
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.