News / Asia

South Korea Gets New Prime Minister

South Korean new Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik takes an oath during his  inauguration ceremony at the government complex in Seoul, South Korea, 1 Oct 2010
South Korean new Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik takes an oath during his inauguration ceremony at the government complex in Seoul, South Korea, 1 Oct 2010

South Korea's parliament has approved a new prime minister, filling a post that has been vacant since August.

Also on Friday, President Lee Myung-bak named a new foreign minister. The previous top diplomat stepped down amid accusations of favoritism last month.

The new prime minister is Kim Hwang-sik, a former Supreme Court justice and head of the government auditing board. He was approved on a vote of 169 to 71 after defending himself at a hearing this week against allegations he once faked medical records to avoid the draft.

The new foreign minister will be Kim Sung-hwan, a career diplomat who has been serving as Mr. Lee's national security adviser. Parliament will conduct a hearing on his nomination but cannot block it.

Mr. Lee's government remains popular despite a series of embarrassments that have made it difficult for the president to fill top positions.

Former Prime Minister Chung Un-chan stepped down in August after a dispute about a government relocation project. Mr. Lee's first nominee to replace him, former provincial governor Kim Tae-ho, withdrew during hearings amid complaints of unethical behavior.

The foreign minister's post was vacated last month by Yu Myung-hwan over accusations that hiring procedures were rigged to help his daughter win a mid-level job at the ministry.

Executive power in South Korea is vested mainly in the president. The role of the prime minister is largely administrative and ceremonial.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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