President-elect Park Geun-hye on Thursday nominated transition chief Kim Yong-joon, a widely respected former judge, to serve as her first prime minister in a decision that underscores her priority of promoting fairness and national unity.
“He is the right person for upholding the nation’s law and principles, for resolving the public’s mistrust of social safety, and for opening the era of public happiness where the weak are protected,” Park said at the transition committee office in Seoul.
She said that his background in law, and his dedication to upholding law and order as well as his role in leading the transition team were reflected in the decision.
|Transition committee chief and prime ministerial nominee Kim Yong-joon answers questions at the presidential transition team’s office in Seoul on Thursday. (Ahn Hoon/The Korea Herald)|
Kim will be subjected to a National Assembly confirmation.
As with Park’s previous personnel selections, Kim’s nomination was kept tightly under wraps until the official announcement with a number of individuals including former Democratic United Party adviser Han Gwang-ok being named among the likely candidates up until Thursday morning.
“If I take the post of prime minister with the approval (of the National Assembly), I will do my best to support the president according to the Constitution, and serve the role of overseeing the various ministries,” Kim said.
Kim’s nomination has come as something of a surprise as Kim has expressed negative views about members of the transition team becoming Cabinet members in the past. Although the opinion was reported to be shared with Park, Kim said that related comments only ruled out transition team members being guaranteed government posts.
The main opposition Democratic United Party has promised a tough vetting process for Kim while not opposing the nomination outright.
The DUP assessed Kim as an “excellent legal professional,” but raised doubt about Kim’s capacity to serve as a prime minister with increased authority, which was part of Park’s pledge aimed at reducing the powers of the president.
“(For the system) to work properly, extensive administrative experience and the ability to take control of the ministries are required, and what experience and capabilities (Kim) has needs to be proven,” DUP spokesman Park Yong-jin said in a statement.
“The DUP will report to the public whether nominee Kim Yong-joon has the qualification and capabilities of a prime minister through a stringent vetting process in the National Assembly confirmation hearing.”
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com