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S Korea’s incoming president nominates his prime minister

SEOUL (AP) – South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol yesterday announced his intent to name a seasoned former prime minister and economic expert to serve as the country’s number two official under his incoming government.

Yoon’s pick of Han Duck-soo for prime minister is the first major nomination in his government set to be inaugurated in May.

South Korea’s executive power is concentrated with the president, but the prime minister leads the country if the president becomes incapacitated. A nomination of prime minister requires parliamentary approval.

Han, 72, held a string of top spots such as trade minister, finance minister and prime minister when South Korea was governed by back-to-back liberal presidents, Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, from 1998 to 2008. During the next conservative government of President Lee Myung-bak, Han was South Korea’s ambassador to the United States (US).

Yoon called Han “the right person” to lead his Cabinet citing his vast administrative experience at a time when South Korea faces “grave environments” at home and abroad. Han said he feels both honoured and burdened by the nomination.

Yoon, a conservative former top prosecutor who won the March 9 election, will replace current liberal President Moon Jae-in. Key tasks facing Yoon include how to revive pandemic-hit livelihoods, address runaway housing prices and income equality, and deal with North Korea’s growing nuclear threats and an intensifying competition between the US and China.

Yoon is expected to nominate his choices for foreign, defence, finance and other ministers in coming weeks.

South Korean Prime Minister nominee Han Duck-soo. PHOTO: AP
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