Yoon to review likely candidates for prime minister

With just over 40 days left to go to inauguration, President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol will soon choose a candidate for the prime minister’s post for his administration, with a short list reportedly being compiled.

On Monday, Yoon’s spokesperson said that the president-elect’s office plans to select the final candidates by early April, as it takes about a month to go through the appointment process.

“When we choose the final nominee for prime minister, we would request for a parliamentary hearing, which would take at least three weeks from then, so we expect to have an outline of the candidate by early April,” spokesperson Kim Eun-hye said in a press briefing.

Kim also explained how they are looking to find a person who would be able to play a role who can lead cooperation of ministers and officials in the economy sector, highlighting its importance.

The officials are expected to make the report on the potential nominees to the president-elect as early as this week.

“It takes about 35 days to complete the appointment, so when you reverse that timeline there are processes that should be done at what time,” Chang Je-won, Yoon’s chief of staff, told reporters Sunday.

“We will report the many possible candidates and if the president-elect approves, we will then have to ask the nominee whether they would submit to the candidate vetting,” Chang said.

A number of figures are being raised as likely candidates.

As the president-elect has set forth the recovery of the economy and its growth as among the top priorities, figures in the economy sector are reportedly being considered as likely candidates, including former Prime Minister Han Duck-soo.

Han, who served as the prime minister from 2007-2008 under the Roh Moo-hyun administration, is a trade expert and also served as ambassador to the United States from 2009 to 2012.

Former chief of the liberal Democratic Party Kim Han-gil and Park Joo-sun, former parliamentary vice speaker, are also in contention. Both of them are currently working in the presidential transition committee, with Kim leading the committee dedicated to national integration and Park as the chief of the presidential inauguration preparation committee.

Ahn Cheol-soo, chairman of Yoon’s presidential transition team that is currently shaping the outline of the next administration and reviewing key state affairs, is considered a strong candidate for prime minister.

Ahn also ran in the presidential election, but he dropped out of the race just before early voting began to declare support for Yoon. His minor opposition People’s Party is also in the process of merging with Yoon‘s main opposition People Power Party.

People Power Party Chairman Lee Jun-seok had said Ahn “has enough qualities” to be the prime minister and that Ahn should not be ruled out.

Because the appointment needs confirmation from the National Assembly, where the opposing ruling Democratic Party of Korea holds a firm majority of 172 seats out of 300, Yoon’s office will also consider figures less likely to face opposition.

In the list of likely contenders is Rep. Kwon Young-se. The four-term lawmaker is a close aide who has led Yoon’s presidential campaign team and is currently vice chairman of Yoon’s presidential transition committee.

For the vetting of the candidates, Joo Jin-woo, a former prosecutor and Yoon’s confidant, is reportedly leading the team of about 10 members in an office separated from the two current presidential transition committee buildings.

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