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Yoon strongly considering ex-PM Han as first PM: sources

All News 09:21 March 31, 2022

SEOUL, March 31 (Yonhap) -- President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol is strongly considering nominating former Prime Minister Han Duck-soo as his first prime minister, sources said Thursday.

Han, 72, has held a number of high positions in government, including finance minister, prime minister under former President Roh Moo-hyun, and ambassador to the United States. In those capacities, he played a key role in negotiating a free trade agreement with the U.S.

Han is considered a trade specialist with expertise in foreign affairs, making him a suitable candidate to oversee Yoon's twin priorities of rebuilding the economy and bolstering national security.

"The prime minister has to be someone who can turn the two wheels of an economic 'one team' on the one hand and a security 'one team' on the other," said one source close to the president-elect.

"They have to have experience and expertise. Being enthusiastic isn't enough," the source said, adding that Yoon's standards for personnel appointments are high.

This photo provided by the Korea International Trade Association shows former Prime Minister Han Duck-soo. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This photo provided by the Korea International Trade Association shows former Prime Minister Han Duck-soo. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The president-elect appears to be leaning toward someone with economic expertise and experience in government, another source said.

Nominating Han is thought to have other benefits too.

The former prime minister was born in Jeonju, a liberal stronghold, and served under two liberal presidents, Kim Dae-jung and Roh, which could reduce the chances of his nomination being opposed by the liberal Democratic Party.

Han also passed the National Assembly's vetting during the confirmation process for his nomination as prime minister in 2007.

Other names on the list of potential candidates include Yim Jong-yong, former chairman of the Financial Services Commission; Choi Joong-kyung, former minister of knowledge economy; former Democratic Party leader Kim Han-gil; and former Vice Assembly Speaker Park Joo-sun.

On Wednesday, Ahn Cheol-soo, chairman of the transition team, withdrew himself from consideration for the No. 2 political office.

Yoon is expected to announce his pick as early as Sunday or early next week.


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