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South Korean President Nominates New PM - 2002-08-09

South Korean President Kim Dae-jung nominated a new prime minister Friday in an effort to revamp his government following a series of electoral defeats. The move comes one day after the main opposition party won a landslide victory in a parliamentary by-election.

South Korea's Grand National Party, the leading opposition group, scored an important win in Thursday's by-election.

It gained a majority in the nation's one-house National Assembly by winning 11 out of 13 parliamentary seats up for grabs. Now it controls 139 seats in the 273-member parliament. Two pro-government parties control 127 seats, while the rest belong to smaller opposition groups and independent lawmakers.

The election was widely viewed as an indicator of the presidential vote on December 19th. Opposition leader Lee Hoi-chang leads many public polls, and Thursday's by-election underscores his growing popularity.

Many South Koreans are disillusioned by corruption scandals involving President Kim Dae-jung's family and close aides. The president has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but two of his sons are in jail on charges of bribery and influence peddling.

President Kim nominated a U.S.-educated newspaper publisher Friday as his prime minister. Chang Dae-whan now awaits approval from the National Assembly. The nomination comes eight days after parliament voted against the president's original choice, Chang Sang. She was the first female nominee for prime minister in South Korea, but lawmakers rejected her on concerns over her ethical standards.