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(Profile) PM nominee gearing up to enlarge political ambition

All Headlines 14:54 August 08, 2010

SEOUL, Aug. 8 (Yonhap) -- Kim Tae-ho, the prime minister nominee, will become the nation's fifth prime minister to take office in his 40s, if his nomination is confirmed by the parliament in the upcoming confirmation hearing.

Kim, who was born in 1962 in Geochang in the southeastern province of South Gyeongsang, has long been rumored to assume an important role in the Lee Myung-bak administration after declaring his intention not to seek a third term as governor of the same province earlier this year.

The prime ministerial designation of the 47-year-old Kim is expected to help refresh Lee's Cabinet and accelerate generational change within the government.

A South Korean prime minister in his 40s has been unheard of over the past four decades since Kim Jong-pil rose to the top Cabinet post in 1971 at age 45.

In the local political community, Kim Tae-ho has long been mentioned as one of the strongest next-generation leaders, particularly since his election as governor of South Gyeongsang, which surrounds the nation's largest port city of Busan, in the 2004 local elections at the age of 42.

In office, Kim pushed strongly ahead with a number of administrative reform measures and successfully implemented development projects for the nation's southern coastal areas.

Thanks to the accomplishments as well as his image as a "clean and fresh" politician, Kim was easily re-elected.

When Kim suddenly announced his decision not to run for June's local elections at the beginning of this year, political pundits speculated that he may have been promised a key post in the Lee Cabinet.

Contrary to his quick success in politics, Kim came from humble beginnings.

He was born to a poor farming family in Geochang in 1962 as the second son among four children. Due to his family's deep poverty, Kim had once thought of giving up his high school education.

After many twists and turns, however, Kim managed to advance to a local agricultural high school and was eventually admitted to Seoul National University, the nation's most prestigious school, to major in agricultural education.

Kim initially sought an academic career after graduation, but eventually jumped into politics due to his personal relations with one of former President Kim Young-sam's aides.

In the late 1990s, he joined the predecessor of the ruling Grand National Party and was elected to the council of South Gyeongsang Province in 1998.

Kim, one of the ruling camp's presidential hopefuls, along with Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon and Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-su, is expected to further accelerate his political ambition after taking over as prime minister.


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