Rhee Chang-yong, the new Bank of Korea governor, is already displaying a sense of mission creep that could make Asia’s No 4 economy better off.
Over the last decade, Seoul has been blessed with solid central bank chiefs. Rhee’s immediate predecessor Lee Ju-yeol skillfully steered around global turmoil, including US-China trade wars, Covid-19 and surging inflation.
Before Lee, Kim Choong-soo, the governor from 2010 to 2014, navigated around the 2013 “taper tantrum” and any number of international threats with great aplomb.
Yet Lee and Kim largely colored within the lines, applying conventional remedies to challenges that emerged. They stayed in their lane, letting the government take the lead in devising an economic strategy.
Less than six weeks into the job, Rhee seems to be priming South Korean officialdom for a far more visible, vocal and activist style of central banking. And it’s hard not to root for the 26th man to occupy his new office.