Accessibility links

Korea's Kim Nominates ex-Judge as PM - 2002-09-10

South Korean President Kim Dae-jung has named a former Supreme Court justice as his third nominee for the post of prime minister, after having his two previous choices rejected by Parliament. Mr. Kim, with just less than six months to go in office, has had a difficult time from the political opposition during this campaign season.

The president has named Kim Suk-soo, 69, a one-time Supreme Court justice, as his choice for prime minister. Mr. Kim is a former head of the National Election Commission and a non-executive director of Samsung, one of South Korea's largest conglomerates. He will face parliamentary hearings later this month to confirm the nomination.

The opposition dominated Parliament has rejected the president's two previous nominations for the office over allegations of corruption and unethical behavior.

University head Chang Sang, who would have been the first female in the post, was rejected after accusations surfaced that she helped her son evade military service. The second nominee, newspaper publisher Chang Dae-whan, was accused of improper financial dealings. /// END OPT ///

Parliament's rejections dealt a blow to Kim Dae-jung just months before presidential elections in December and the end of his term early next year. In recent months, his administration has been mired in a corruption scandal. Two of his sons are in prison accused of accepting millions of dollars in return for peddling influence.

South Korean media report that the president has found it difficult to find a candidate willing to accept the nomination and undergo a grilling by Parliament, in return for such a short tenure in office. Whoever holds the post will stay in office only a little beyond the December presidential elections.

A cabinet reshuffle left the position vacant in July. The role is largely ceremonial, although the prime minister would take over the running of the country if the president is incapacitated or dies.

The new candidate, described as a taciturn and even-tempered man, said he would make anti-corruption a mainstay of his time in office.


Kim Suk-soo acknowledges there is a danger that decay would set in during the last few months of the presidency and he pledges to steady the administration in order to reassure the public. He adds that it is essential that the forthcoming elections are clean and fair.

The president's chief of staff endorsed the nomination, describing Kim Suk-soo as a clean lawyer who had spent most of his career in the judicial sector. He added that the presidential office hoped that lawmakers will cooperate by endorsing him.