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Yoon makes first eight picks for Cabinet

Yoon’s first picks focused on economy

President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol announces the first eight minister nominees for his incoming Cabinet during a press briefing at the presidential transition committee headquarters in Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol announces the first eight minister nominees for his incoming Cabinet during a press briefing at the presidential transition committee headquarters in Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)

President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol announced Sunday the first eight minister nominees for his incoming Cabinet, each of whom will undergo parliamentary confirmation hearings before final appointment.

“The criteria for the personnel appointments was nothing more than whether the person would be the best suited to lead their designated fields,” Yoon said during a press briefing at the presidential transition committee headquarters in Seoul.

For the first deputy prime minister and minister of economy and finance, Yoon named Rep. Choo Kyung-ho, a former finance vice minister.

Choo served as the vice chairman of the Financial Service Commission under the Lee Myung-bak administration from 2011 to 2013, and then as vice minister at the Ministry of Economy and Finance under the Park Geun-hye administration from 2013 to 2014.

At the transition committee, Choo has been leading the planning and management subcommittee.

For the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Lee Chang-yang, a professor of management engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, got the nod. He has been leading the second subcommittee for economic affairs at the presidential transition committee.

Retired Lt. Gen. Lee Jong-sup, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was named minister of national defense. Lee has been working as a member of the presidential transition committee’s foreign policy subcommittee.

From top left: First deputy prime minister and finance minister nominee Rep. Choo Kyung-ho of People Power Party; Industry minister nominee Lee Chang-yang. Transport ministry Won Hee-ryong; Defense minister nominee retired Lt. Gen. Lee Jong-sup. From bottom left: Science minister nominee Lee Jong-ho; welfare minister Chung Ho-young; culture minister nominee Park Bo-kyun, gender equality minister nominee Kim Hyun-sook. (Yonhap)
From top left: First deputy prime minister and finance minister nominee Rep. Choo Kyung-ho of People Power Party; Industry minister nominee Lee Chang-yang. Transport ministry Won Hee-ryong; Defense minister nominee retired Lt. Gen. Lee Jong-sup. From bottom left: Science minister nominee Lee Jong-ho; welfare minister Chung Ho-young; culture minister nominee Park Bo-kyun, gender equality minister nominee Kim Hyun-sook. (Yonhap)

Won Hee-ryong was tapped for minister of land, infrastructure and transport and Kim Hyun-sook, an economics professor at Soongsil University, was named as minister of gender equality and family.

Won, formerly governor of Jeju and who ran in the presidential primary against Yoon, played a role as the chief policymaker for the president-elect during the campaign.

Kim has been serving as the president-elect’s special policy adviser, managing policies related to Korea’s low birthrate and its aging population, as well as Yoon’s election pledge to abolish the Gender Equality and Family Ministry.

The abolition of the Gender Equality Ministry is not yet imminent. The presidential transition committee is currently looking into governmental reorganization, and is reviewing the establishment of a new ministry to replace the current Gender Equality Ministry and address the overall topics of demographics and population, gender and family and youth.

As its minister, Kim is expected to smooth out the process of disbanding the ministry in accordance with the president-elect’s pledge.

Former chairman of Kyungpook National University Hospital in Daegu Chung Ho-young has been named as minister of health and welfare, while a tech expert specializing in semiconductors, Lee Jong-ho, electrical and computer engineering professor at Seoul National University was tapped as the Minister of Science and ICT.

As for the culture minister, Park Bo-kyun, former vice president of the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, was named.

When pointed out that the personnel picks appear to lack in diversity, Yoon explained that he did not consider special factors such as region, gender or age to arrange the personnel appointments.

“From presidential campaign period, I have said I will not consider any quota systems (in personnel),” Yoon said during the press briefing.

“I believe that, when we appoint those who are the most capable, and we do have a lot of posts we have to name, it will ultimately balance out the backgrounds of the figures, of their genders, regions and generations because Korea has talents in all regions.”

The average age of the eight nominees is 60.5, with three of them in their 50s and five of them in their 60s.

Two of them are from South Gyeongsang Province, another two are from  Daegu. The rest are from North Gyeongsang Province, Seoul, Jeju and North Chungcheong Province.

Among them, only one was a woman, Kim Hyun-sook, the nominee for minister of gender equality and family.

Yoon said he would announce the remaining ministers in the near future.

The Cabinet members named by the president-elect on Sunday are subject to parliamentary confirmation hearings, though the appointment can still be finalized if the president presses on.

Prime minister is the only Cabinet post that requires parliamentary confirmation.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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