Yoon picks half of his Cabinet
Yoon named his picks for key Cabinet posts such as defense, land and trade during a press conference at the presidential transition committee office in Tongui-dong, central Seoul.
Choo, who will double as deputy prime minister for the economy, was a deputy floor leader of the PPP until last month and heads Yoon's transition team's planning and management subcommittee.
A career economic bureaucrat, Choo served as a presidential secretary for economic and financial affairs and vice chairman of the Financial Service Commission in the Lee Myung-bak administration. The Daegu native also was first vice finance minister and chief of the government policy coordination office in the Park Geun-hye administration.
Yoon said Choo "has been highly praised for his ability to plan and coordinate on national issues," pointing to his parliamentary experience as a deputy floor leader. He added, "Based on his expertise from public service and parliamentary activities, I expect him to establish the foundation for the Korean economy to take another leap forward and enable smooth communication with the National Assembly."
Lee Chang-yang, an economics and public policy professor at KAIST, was tapped as minister of industry, trade and energy. He got his start in that ministry and is head of the transition team's second subcommittee for economic affairs. He served as a member of the board of SK hynix and is an outside board member of LG Display.
Retired Lt. Gen. Lee Jong-sup, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), was named defense minister.
Former Jeju Gov. Won Hee-ryong, who served as chief policymaker for Yoon's presidential campaign and heads the planning committee for his transition team, was tapped as minister of land, infrastructure and transport. Yoon said Won has a "great understanding of real estate policy, a key area in people's livelihoods where fairness and common sense must be restored."
Chip expert Lee Jong-ho, director of Seoul National University's Inter-University Semiconductor Research Center, was nominated science and ICT minister.
Dr. Chung Ho-young, former chairman of the Kyungpook National University Hospital, was tapped as health and welfare minister. He worked at the Covid-19 living treatment center in Daegu during one of Korea's first big outbreaks in 2020.
Veteran journalist Park Bo-gyoon, a former vice president and executive editor of the JoongAng Ilbo, was named minister of culture, sports and tourism.
Kim Hyun-sook, an economics professor at Soongsil University and a former lawmaker, was named minister of gender equality and family. Yoon pledged to abolish the Gender Equality Ministry but his transition team last Thursday said it would keep the current government organizational structure for the time being. Thus, Kim is expected to review the role of the ministry and ways to wind it down.
Kim has served as Yoon's special policy adviser, managing policies related to Korea's low birthrate and its aging population and as a senior presidential secretary for employment and welfare in the Park administration.
"Above anything else, I selected the person who will best lead in their designated fields for the country and the people," said Yoon.
He reiterated his campaign position that he will not make appointments based on nominees' region of birth, generation or gender, adding that he believes that a "balance will be naturally reached as there are many public offices to be named and talent is not swayed on just one side."
On defense minister nominee Lee Jong-sup, Yoon said, "He has been recognized for his outstanding expertise in military operations and defense policy," and during his time in the JCS has "made great contributions to the development of the Republic of Korea-U.S. security alliance."
Yoon said of Kim Hyun-sook, his gender equality minister pick, "Since the campaign process, we have been designing family policies such as child care and elementary school care. I look forward to a focus on population measures and family policies."
The nominees will undergo parliamentary confirmation hearings, but only the prime minister post requires National Assembly approval. The president can push through any other Cabinet appointment.
This comes one week after Yoon nominated former Prime Minister Han Duck-soo as prime minister and one month before his presidential inauguration.
Half of the 18 cabinet posts have been filled now, with more announcements expected this week.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]