President Park Geun-hye on Thursday nominated Constitutional Court justice Park Han-chul as its chief, and business administration professor Han Jung-wha to head the Small and Medium Business Administration.
Park, who has been serving as a member of the top court’s nine-member bench since 2011, was chosen for his “expertise and capability,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Yoon Chang-jung said. Yoon also explained that Park was the first in line to succeed the top seat in terms of his tenure, the longest among the justices, at the court.
The position has been left vacant for 60 days since the retirement of Lee Kang-kook on Jan. 21. Lee Dong-heub, who had been recommended to replace him, withdrew his nomination on Feb. 13 over allegations of ethical lapses.
Park, a graduate of Seoul National University School of Law, served as head of the public security department at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office and chief of the Seoul Eastern District Court.
The president also named two new justices to join the court, including Cho Yong-ho, the chief of the Seoul High Court, and Suh Ki-suhk, the chief of the Seoul Central District Court.
All three are required to undergo National Assembly confirmation hearings.
The nomination of Han, dean of Hanyang University Business School, came three days after Park’s previous choice Hwang Chul-joo gave up his nomination over a regulation that required him to sell all his stocks in his venture company.
Han is said to be a representative figure in the field of small and mid-sized businesses, having led a venture research center under the SMBA and the Korean Association of Small Business Studies.
Park’s designations of figures to key government posts remain stalled as the opposition remain adamant against some of her choices including defense minister-designate Kim Byung-kwan and Fair Trade Commission chief-nominee Han Man-soo.
As criticism of Kim, in particular, continues to escalate over a slew of ethical lapses including alleged tax evasion, lobbying and real estate speculation, even ruling Saenuri Party members have started voicing the need for the president to renege on her choice.
“(Kim) must voluntarily step down and stop bringing disgrace on the president,” Rep. Shim Jae-chul said in a radio interview.
The lawmaker cited a fresh disclosure of Kim having omitted in his asset disclosure his shares in controversial overseas resource developer KMDC, as one more reason for the nominee to step down.
“(If Kim refuses to resign his nomination), our party has decided that our chairman Hwang Woo-yea will gather our views and deliver the position to Cheong Wa Dae,” he added.
The DUP, meanwhile, objected to the designation of Park Han-chul citing his experience in the public security department.
“It is an inappropriate designation that raises the concerns over the Constitutional Court becoming the last bastion of security instead of human rights,” said DUP spokesman Park Yong-jin.
By Lee Joo-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org