President Park Geun-hye is likely to nominate a new prime minister early this week to push ahead with her reform drive on fresh momentum following the local elections last week.
The president’s surprising appointment of a new press secretary on Sunday also raised views that a reshuffle of presidential aides is impending.
Park on Sunday morning named Yoon Doo-hyun, president of YTN Plus, a subsidiary of cable news network YTN, as the new presidential senior press secretary.
Yoon, a former journalist and managing editor of the YTN newsroom, replaces Lee Jung-hyun, who offered to step down on Saturday. Lee, one of Park’s close aides, offered to resign on Saturday amid growing speculation that he would run for a by-election on July 30.
“President Park Geun-hye has named Yoon Doo-hyun, president of YTN Plus, as successor to senior secretary Lee Jung-hyun,” said presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook.
“Yoon has demonstrated his balanced thinking and sharp analysis while serving as the political desk editor and managing editor at YTN.
“He was appointed because he was believed to be the right person to be a communicator in explaining government reform policies, and in seeking understanding and cooperation from the people,” he said.
The announcement came after Park reiterated her determination to push forward with her reform agenda in her Memorial Day speech on Friday. Her pledge also came after her ruling party avoided a crushing defeat in the local elections last week despite widespread criticism of her government in the wake of the April ferry disaster.
Cheong Wa Dae has been searching for a new candidate for the nation’s No. 2 post after Ahn Dae-hee, a former star prosecutor, dropped his nomination last month amid spiraling speculations that he received favors. Park is expected to choose a well-reputed person who has no ties to power, politics or government to assure the public that the nominee has no ethical lapses.
Earlier, she was thought to have one of her aides in her party in mind including Rep. Kim Moo-sung, Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan and former Gyeonggi Gov. Kim Moon-soo. But the possibility of having a new P.M. from her party became slim with each Saenuri politicians reportedly setting their own path. On Sunday, Rep. Kim declared his bid to run for party chairman. Former Gyeonggi Gov. Kim was excluded from the list as he was reportedly eying an intra-party contest to pick a presidential candidate. Rep. Choi is also being mentioned as the new finance minister.
Some observers raised the possibility that Cheong Wa Dae is considering nominating Sim Dae-pyeong, chairman of presidential committee on local autonomy development, citing his regional background. With the main opposition party sweeping gubernatorial seats in South and North Chungcheong provinces in local elections, some has been raising views that the president will pick figures who are born and raised in the country’s central region. Kim Young-ran, former Supreme Court justice, is also being referred as possible candidates for the prime ministerial post. Kim has been drawing public attention with a bill she proposed while serving as chief of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission. The so-called “Kim Young-ran bill,” remains pending at parliament. If passed, the act will prohibit monetary transactions between public officials and interests groups.
Meanwhile, the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy lashed out at Park’s choice of Yoon as new senior press secretary, claiming that the former journalist had drawn strong opposition from the YTN labor union for releasing reports partial to the ruling party.
“Having a journalist at Cheong Wa Dae has revealed (the president’s) intention to maintain its cozy relations with the media,” said NPAD spokesman Geum Tae-seop.
“(Yoon) was a journalist who walked on the eggshell in the previous administration,” he added.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org)