Yoon appoints Ahn as transition committee chairman
Yoon named his election campaign chief, Rep. Kwon Young-se of the People Power Party (PPP), as vice chairman of the presidential transition committee, and former Jeju Gov. Won Hee-ryong, a PPP campaign policy chief, as its planning chair.
Announcing the appointments in a press conference at the PPP's headquarters in Yeouido, western Seoul, Sunday afternoon, Yoon said his transition committee will "reflect the promises I made to the people during the election process and effectively implement them."
The transition team over the next two months will help set the president-elect's policy direction leading up to his inauguration on May 10.
It will have seven subcommittees: planning and adjustment; foreign policy and national security; legal, political and administrative affairs; economy; science, technology and education; and culture, society and welfare.
The team will have special committees dedicated to national unity, the Covid-19 response and balanced regional growth. Another task force will review a campaign pledge to move the presidential office to Gwanghwamun in central Seoul.
Yoon said that he will appoint 24 transition committee members this week. The transition committee is not expected to exceed 200 people.
"Chairman Ahn shares the same values and philosophy on state management as me," said Yoon, adding Ahn had the "will" to become transition committee head, and that he also believed the People's Party leader to be a "good fit."
On fourth-term lawmaker Kwon, Yoon said, "He has shown competent and stable leadership in the election process with plentiful experience in parliamentary politics. I believe he will lead the transition process successfully together with Chairman Ahn."
On Friday, Yoon and Ahn held a lunch meeting to discuss the transition process and the direction of state affairs.
Through the appointment, Ahn will be able to draw the blueprint for the state affairs of the new government and also chair the special committee on the Covid-19 emergency response. The transition team is expected to focus on the principles of speed, national unity and competence.
Ahn withdrew from the presidential race on March 3 to support Yoon after they struck a last-minute merger deal just six days before the election
Under their alliance, Yoon agreed for Ahn to take part in the transition process and have a hand in forming the new government. The two agreed to merge their parties after the election.
This marks the first presidential transition committee in a decade, as incumbent President Moon Jae-in was elected in a by-election after the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye and had to fill in the vacant posts right away.
Yoon stood by his campaign pledge to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Sunday. He told reporters that the ministry had "already fulfilled its historical duty," questioning its future necessity.
Following his election victory Thursday, Yoon, a former prosecutor general who joined politics just eight months ago, has also been occupied with foreign affairs and security matters.
Yoon received a security briefing Saturday about situations on North Korea and Ukraine from Suh Hoon, director of the National Security Office, said the Blue House.
On Friday, Yoon had his first phone call with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, agreeing to promote friendly cooperative ties between the two countries and to coordinate with the United States on North Korea.
Kishida was the second foreign leader the president-elect spoke to after his phone conversation with U.S. President Joe Biden Thursday, who called hours after Yoon's victory was confirmed.
Yoon said that South Korea and Japan have many future tasks they need to work on together, "such as security in Northeast Asia and economic prosperity," according to his spokesperson Kim Eun-hye.
The president-elect stressed the importance of "resolving pending issues between the two countries in a rational manner" in line with their mutual common interests, said Kim, and expressed hope that Seoul, Washington and Tokyo will "strengthen coordination on Korean Peninsula issues."
The two leaders also agreed to seek a summit at an early date after Yoon's inauguration.
Yoon met with Chinese Ambassador to Seoul Xing Haiming at the PPP headquarters Friday. Xing delivered a congratulatory letter from China's President Xi Jinping.
"I'm certain South Korea-China relations will develop further," said Yoon, noting that their 30-year-old diplomatic relations "have been of great help to the people of both countries" and also helped with economic development.
Xi's message said, "The two countries are close neighbors and important cooperation partners."
He added that China is willing to uphold the "original intentions of our establishment of diplomatic ties and deepen our friendly cooperation to promote the stable and long-term development of the bilateral strategic cooperative partnership relationship."
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]