President Park Geun-hye's finance minister nominee faces a heavy burden of pushing the government's signature three-year economic innovation plan and other reform efforts needed to strengthen the country's long-term growth potential, which recently is showing signs of slowing down.
Choi Kyoung-hwan, 59, is a third-term lawmaker of the ruling Seanuri Party. He is to replace Hyun Oh-seok, who has served as finance minister for more than a year since President Park took office in February last year. Choi, who will double as deputy prime minister for economic minister, is one of the closest confidantes to the president.
The outgoing economic team has been under criticism for failing in its role as a control tower in setting the economic agenda and effectively carrying out measures to pull the country's economy out of a prolonged slump.
In another reshuffle of economic policymakers, Park on Thursday named An Chong-bum, another lawmaker of the ruling party, as chief secretary for economic affairs.
Choi is known to have deep and wide experience and knowledge of economic policies, administrative affairs and politics. Experts expect that he will effectively play the control tower role in gathering diverse opinions in the government, drawing a consensus and mapping out economic policies.
Choi started out as a public servant in 1978 and served at the Economic Planning Board and the Finance and Economy Ministry in the 1980s and 1990s that engaged him in diverse economic policymaking.
He later entered politics, getting elected a lawmaker for the Grand National Party, the predecessor of the Saenuri Party, in 2004. He was re-elected in 2008 and 2012.
From 1999 to 2004, he worked as deputy editor and editorial writer at the Korea Economic Daily, one of the major economic newspapers in the country. He also served as knowledge economic minister in 2009-2011 under the previous President Lee Myung-bak administration. (Yonhap)