Final two Cabinet posts are filled
Chung Hwang-keun, former head of the Rural Development Administration, was tapped as Yoon's minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs.
A native of Cheonan, South Chungcheong, Chung passed the civil service exam in 1984 and spent most of his career in posts in the Agriculture Ministry. Chung was a presidential secretary for agriculture, food and rural affairs in the Park Geun-hye administration, in charge of major agricultural policies.
He was administrator of the state-run Rural Development Administration, an Agriculture Ministry agency, from 2016 to 2017, focusing on ways to modernize the country's agricultural sector. He later served as a visiting professor of agricultural economics at Chungnam National University.
Lee Jung-sik, a longtime labor activist and former secretary general of the Korea Labor and Employment Service, was named minister of employment and labor. With more than 30 years of experience as a labor expert, Lee also served as a secretary general of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), an umbrella union organization that he joined in 1986.
Lee, born in Jecheon, North Chungcheong, was a policy adviser to the transportation minister in the liberal Roh Moo-hyun administration and also was a consultant on labor issues for Samsung Electronics after the company formed its first official union.
Both Chung and Lee are graduates of Seoul National University (SNU).
In a press conference at the transition team's office in Tongui-dong, central Seoul, Yoon said that Chung is "the right person to resolve issues facing rural communities and also strengthen the competitiveness of the agriculture, forestry and livestock industries and further develop them into future growth industries."
Yoon noted Chung's experience as head of the Rural Development Administration, "committing to cutting-edge, convergence-technology-based farming methods to increase productivity amid a changing agricultural environment because of climate change and an aging population in rural areas."
The Agriculture Ministry has to deal with issues such as farmers' opposition to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the Asia-Pacific free trade pact the Korea government is considering joining, as well as rising international grain prices and falling domestic rice prices.
Pointing to Lee's three-decades of experience in the labor field, Yoon described him as an expert "who takes a rational approach in dealing with the labor-company relationship."
He added, "I believe he is the right person to draw the blueprint for a society that properly respects the value of labor and establishes a rational relationship between the labor force and companies."
Lee said he plans to address issues such as youth unemployment, economic polarization and protection of workers deprived of labor rights, including freelancers.
Yoon has now filled all 18 Cabinet posts, which he announced in three press conferences Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The Cabinet was filled in a record 36 days since the election. The Moon Jae-in administration, which took office without a transition after a snap election forced by the removal of his predecessor, completed appointments for its first Cabinet in 55 days. The Park Geun-hye administration took 60 days and Lee Myung-bak's 61 days.
Yoon has emphasized meritocracy in his selections, saying he established no quotas for candidates in terms of gender, region of birth or generation.
This has led to a homogenous Cabinet lineup, generally men in their 50s and 60s who are SNU graduates, the alma mater of the president-elect.
The nominees' average age was 60 years old, the youngest being 49-year-old Justice Minister nominee Han Dong-hoon. Seven nominees were from Yeongnam region, which includes Busan, Daegu, Ulsan and North and South Gyeongsang provinces, while four were from Seoul. There were 10 graduates of SNU.
There are only three female nominees, or 16.7 percent of the completed lineup: the ministers of gender equality, SMEs and environment.
The nominees will undergo parliamentary confirmation hearings, but only the prime minister candidate actually requires National Assembly approval.
Yoon named Kim Dae-ki, a former presidential chief of staff for policy, as his first chief of staff Wednesday, and he is expected to fill other key presidential aide positions, including his national security adviser, in the coming days.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]