The Republic of Korea witnessed the birth of the first woman Prime Minister since the establishment of the Constitutional government.
Through the Cabinet reshuffle that took place on July 11, President Kim Dae Jung appointed Ehwa Women's University President Chang Sang as the Acting Prime Minister.
Blue House Chief Secretary Park Ji Won announced on July 11, "The President, recognizing that the fate of the nation in the 21st century depends on women, has appointed a woman Prime Minister for the first time in the history of the Constitutional government." In explaining the reasons for the appointment, Park added, "As a scholar and education expert and at the same time a university president, Acting Prime Minister Chang Sang is endowed with the managerial mindset that makes her well-qualified to efficiently lead the Cabinet." The new Acting Prime Minister will be formally appointed as the Prime Minister upon the approval of the National Assembly.
Acting PM Chang Sang was born in Yongcheon, North Pyeongan Province (North Korea). After graduating from Sook Myong High School and gaining a degree in Mathematics at Ewha Women's University, she switched direction and studied for a PhD in Theology at Princeton University. She returned to Korea and became a professor at her alma mater in 1977. In September 1996, she became the first married president of Ewha Women's University, and went on to prove her managerial capabilities while serving as president for two consecutive terms. For one and a half years from April 1999, Acting PM Chang was on the New Millennium Preparation Committee, and she was also a leader in the women's movement, serving as the Vice-president of YWCA.
The two women Ministers, Minister of Gender Equality Han Myong Sook and Minister of Environment Kim Myong Ja, were retained, while 8 Cabinet members were replaced, with former Justice Minister (and lawyer) Kim Jung Gil reappointed as Justice Minister, Chair of the Defense Planning Committee of the National Defense Ministry Lee Jun assuming the Defense Minister post, and Director of the Korea Research Foundation Kim Sung Jae becoming the new Minister of Culture and Tourism.