Welcome Han’s nominationPresident-elect Yoon Suk-yeol has nominated former prime minister Han Duck-soo as prime minister for his government. After making the decision on Sunday, Yoon praised Han for his competence and expertise in administering governments without political affiliations. “He is most suitable for overseeing the Cabinet and executing national tasks,” said Yoon.
Born in Jeonju city, North Jeolla, Han served as prime minister, deputy prime minister for economic affairs, senior presidential secretary for the economy and ambassador to the United States under the Kim Young-sam, Kim Dae-jung, Roh Moo-hyun and Lee Myung-bak administrations. During the Park Geun-hye administration, he helped the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement settle while serving as head of the Korea International Trade Association (KITA). Given his long service in the public and private sectors — and a lack of political experience for Yoon — Han seems to be the right choice for prime minister.
As rumors about his nomination spread for a while, Han was expected to make a ceremonial reaction to his nomination. But he did not. During a thirty-minute statement, he presented four major tasks in detail — diplomacy and defense for the country’s sake, strengthening fiscal integrity, maintaining trade surplus and elevating national competitiveness — and vowed to “devise feasible policies led by the administration” to achieve such goals “through heated debates and communication.”
One of the most urgent challenges for Korea’s presidential system is how to delegate the mighty presidential power to the prime minister and other ministers. Fortunately, the press conference held on Sunday by Yoon and Han suggests consensus on the issue. After a three-hour meeting on Saturday, the prime minister-nominee said he was entrusted by Yoon with a considerable portion of presidential power. In contrast, the Moon Jae-in Blue House got involved in appointing not only director-level officials in the government but also heads of agencies controlled by ministries. We welcome Yoon’s determination to respect opinions of ministers.
The two also stressed the importance of integration and cooperation with the opposition. “Co-governance and unity will be respected,” Han said. Coincidently, Yoon attended the ceremony on Sunday for the April 3 Jeju Uprising and Massacre, a first for a president-elect or president from conservative parties. For the Yoon administration, cooperation with the opposition Democratic Party (DP) with 172 seats in the 300-member legislature is a must.
Now the ball is in the DP’s court. It must help the incoming administration to launch successfully by approving Han’s nomination.