S. Jeolla governor tapped as PM nominee - Korea Times
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S. Jeolla governor tapped as PM nominee

Moon also appoints chief of staff, presidential security chief, NIS director

By Jun Ji-hye

President Moon Jae-in nominated South Jeolla Province Governor Lee Nak-yon as his first prime minister, Wednesday.

Lee Nak-yon
Lee Nak-yon
Suh Hoon
Suh Hoon
Im Jong-seok
Im Jong-seok
Moon also nominated Suh Hoon, a former official at the National Intelligence Service (NIS), to head the spy agency, while appointing former lawmaker Im Jong-seok as presidential chief of staff. Ju Young-hoon, a former official of the Presidential Security Service (PSS), was also named to head his security team.

Nominees for the prime minister and NIS director need to go through National Assembly confirmation hearings.

While announcing the first round of his personnel appointments, Moon said Lee was the "right man" to contribute to the new government's goal of national unity with his extensive network in the political sector and regional base in the Jeolla provinces and Gwangju.

Lee, 65, a native of Yeonggwang, South Jeolla Province, majored in law at Seoul National University and worked as a journalist at the Dong-A Ilbo. He entered politics in 2000, serving four terms at the National Assembly. He also served as a spokesman for former President Roh Moo-hyun when he was the president-elect.

After Roh's inauguration, Lee grew apart from the pro-Roh faction and later actively participated in activities for exchanges and to create harmony among lawmakers from the southwestern and southeastern regions.

Lee is known to have maintained close relations with lawmakers from the conservative opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) as well as the center-left People's Party, raising the hope for a prompt confirmation by the Assembly.

"I will serve the job with responsibility and conviction," Lee said at Cheong Wa Dae. "I will carefully examine the duties of each ministry and resolve any discord between them."

Suh, the nominee to head the spy agency, is a specialist on North Korea, having played a major role in helping previous governments arrange inter-Korean summits in 2000 and 2007. Under the governments of the late Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh, Suh had a number of formal and informal contacts with his North Korean counterparts.

Suh also stayed in the North for two years from 1997 as head of the field office of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO).

It is widely expected that Suh will back up the new liberal leader's goal to improve long-strained inter-Korean ties.

"A summit between the two Koreas needs to take place," Suh said. "I can visit Pyongyang when conditions for denuclearization are mature."

He also vowed to eradicate NIS intervention in domestic politics and elections, apparently mindful that it has been believed that Moon was the victim of an online smear campaign run by the agency in the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election.

Im, the newly appointed chief of staff for Moon, is a former student activist reputed to have wide personal connections.

While serving as president of the student body at Hanyang University in 1989, he facilitated an unauthorized visit to North Korea by fellow student activist Lim Soo-kyung. Following the trip, he served three-and-a-half years in jail for violating the National Security Act.

Im was a two-term lawmaker between 2000 and 2008, and was vice mayor of Seoul under Mayor Park Won-soon from 2014 to 2015. He entered the Moon camp at the end of last year and worked as chief secretary during the election campaign.

Ju, tapped as PSS chief, has taken various roles in the presidential office's security team since 1984.

After Roh resigned and returned home to Bongha Village in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang, Ju followed the former president and continued to assist him.

Moon said Ju was a well-qualified person who can reform the presidential security team and lead "the era of the Gwanghwamun President."

While campaigning, Moon vowed to move the presidential office into the Government Complex in Gwanghwamun, and commute to and from work in an effort to avoid a top-down style of state management and better interact with the public.

Jun Ji-hye jjh@koreatimes.co.kr


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