Park replaces premier, angering opposition
SEOUL: South Korea’s presidential office yesterday named a new prime minister and finance minister, the highest-level shake-up since President Park Geun-hye’s administration was rocked by a scandal involving a friend accused of meddling in state affairs.
But opposition parties denounced the reshuffle as a bid by Park to divert attention from the political crisis, which has dragged her approval rating to an alltime low.
The Blue House named Financial Services Commission chairman Yim Jong- yong as finance minister and deputy prime minister. Yim, who replaces incumbent minister Yoo Il-ho, has been well-regarded by policymakers and market participants in his current role.
Kim Byong-joon ( pix), a senior presidential secretary during former president Roh Moo-hyun’s administration, is expected to replace Hwang Kyo-ahn as prime minister. The prime minister’s role in South Korea is largely administrative and requires parliamentary approval.
Kim initially scheduled a news conference but later called it off, saying he would speak further today.
Appointing Kim, who has a reputation as a liberal, appears to be a bid by the conservative Park to placate the opposition and soothe public anger over the scandal involving Park’s friend, Choi Soon-sil, who is in custody and under investigation by prosecutors.
But the shake-up, which included a new minister of public safety and security, did little to please the opposition.
“This replacement of the prime minister and finance minister can’t be happening without discussing it with the opposition,” People’s Party leader Park Jie-won said, adding his party would boycott nomination hearings. – Reuters