President Park Geun-hye accepted the resignation of her welfare minister Chin Young Monday evening amid disagreements over a new pension plan unveiled last week.
In an apparent criticism of Chin, President Park had urged her Cabinent members and senior secretaries to have a sense of duty in pushing ahead with state affairs.
"A problem will not be solved by trying to avoid public and political criticism. Doing your best in your respective positions is the best way to weather the storm during difficult times."
The president's critics say that Chin's move demonstrates that President Park is struggling to resolve differences on key policies with related ministries, and some speculate that a Cabinet reshuffle may not be far off.
But Prime Minister Chung Hong-won dismissed that speculation outright, and added that he regretted Chin's "irresponsible move" to step down.
Over the weekend,Chin reiterated his intention to step down and told reporters that he had opposed and still opposes the idea of linking the new basic pension program with the national pension.
Under the new basic pension plan,only the lower 70 percent income bracket of senior citizens aged 65 and above will recieve up to 200-thousand won, or about 186 U.S. dollars.
However,even for those in the bottom 70 percent,basic pension payments will be reduced in accordance with how long they have contributed to the national pension system, with one in 10 receiving as little as 93 dollars.
President Park had pledged to provide the maximum pension to all Koreans in this age group regardless of income level.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.