South Korea’s Park Names Former Prosecutor as Prime Minister

South Korean President-elect Park Geun Hye nominated former prosecutor Chung Hong Won as prime minister, in her second attempt to form a cabinet that will help helm Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

Chung, 68, began his legal career as a prosecutor and until August 2011 served as chief director of the Korean Legal Aid Association. He also led a committee for political reform within Park’s ruling New Frontier Party during parliamentary elections last April.

“Chung is highly respected and trusted by the legal community,” said Chin Young, deputy head of the presidential transition committee, who announced the nomination today in Seoul. “He has been nominated in consideration of his various contributions to bring about a just society.”

Park, 61, will be inaugurated on Feb. 25 as South Korea’s first woman leader. She faces slowing economic growth and lagging exports amid the won’s continued rally and a rising nuclear threat from North Korea, as public discontent increases over growing inflation and a lack of job opportunities.

Nominees must undergo a parliamentary confirmation process to secure their posts. The National Assembly has as many as 20 days to carry out the process.

The incoming president was criticized for naming an unsuitable candidate when her first pick Kim Yong Jun withdrew his candidacy five days after nomination on Jan. 24. Kim, the 74-year-old former president of the Constitutional Court of Korea, resigned over allegations his sons were involved in suspicious real-estate dealings.

Ordinary Person

“I interpret President-elect Park Geun Hye having named an ordinary person like me to an important post as her intention to value the everyman,” Chung told reporters today. “I see the role of prime minister as one that accurately and justly assists the president.”

Park today also named two key posts at the presidential office, transition team official Chin said. She nominated former Defense Minister Kim Jang Soo as national security chief and a former Army Chief of Staff to helm presidential security.

The South Korean Constitution requires the president to nominate ministers at the recommendation of the prime minister. Park, the daughter of South Korea’s longest-serving military dictator, has pledged to bolster the prime minister’s role.

Lawmakers from Park’s ruling New Frontier Party on Jan. 30 proposed amending the government organization act to abolish the office of minister for special affairs and expand the prime minister’s office to include a new bureau specializing in inter-ministerial mediation.

Other major ministerial appointments will be announced next week after the Feb. 9-11 Lunar New Year holiday, the transition team said yesterday in an e-mailed statement without specifying a date.

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