Former Roh aide tapped as prime minister amid cabinet reshuffle

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Former Roh aide tapped as prime minister amid cabinet reshuffle


From left: Kim Byong-joon; Yim Jong-yong; Park Seung-joo [NEWSIS]

President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday nominated Kim Byong-joon, a key aide to the late President Roh Moo-hyun, as her new prime minister in an attempt to salvage the sinking administration in an unprecedented abuse of power scandal.

Park also nominated Yim Jong-yong, chairman of the Financial Services Commission, as her new deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs. She also accepted Kim’s recommendation to name Park Seung-joo, former minister of gender equality, as the new head of the Ministry of Public Safety and Security.

Park and her administration were reeling from their biggest scandal after the president’s longtime friend, Choi Soon-sil, was exposed as having far more influence than she should have — to the point of being a power behind the throne. Choi allegedly had access to top-secret national security documents, influenced personnel appointments in the Park administration, strong-armed conglomerates to raise slush funds and apparently was involved in top decisions. She was arrested on Monday on charges of embezzlement, tax evasion and unauthorized access to presidential documents.

“President Park reshuffled her presidential secretariat on Sunday for the current situation,” presidential spokesman Jung Youn-kuk said. “She took the follow-up measures and replaced the prime minister, deputy prime minister for economy and the minister of public safety and security.”

Kim, currently working as a public policy professor of Kookmin University, was an architect of the Roh administration’s major policies focused on government reform and decentralization. He maintained a close relationship with the late president for decades. In the Roh administration, Kim served in various key posts. He was Roh’s chief policy secretary and the deputy prime minister in charge of education.

A native of Goryeong, North Gyeongsang, the 62-year-old Kim studied politics at Yeungnam University in Daegu and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies' graduate school. He obtained a doctoral degree in politics from the University of Delaware.

Recruiting Kim as the new prime minister was a clear response to opposition parties’ growing demand that Park be stopped from directing state affairs any longer.

“He is a renowned public administration scholar, and he has both academic insights and experiences in the government,” Jung said.

“Taking into account his values and experiences, we have high anticipation that he will successfully serve as a prime minister who implements policies fit to serve the people and lives up to the public expectations. He was considered the best candidate to overcome the various crises of the country and to lead the cabinet for the future of the country.”

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