South Korean President taps ruling party lawmaker as new finance minister

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Baku, December 21, AZERTAC

The nominee to lead South Korea's economy vowed Monday to take preemptive steps to help overcome the current economic difficulties, according to Yonhap news agency.

"We should fully brace for" for things that are similar to the situation of the financial crisis that hit South Korea in 1997, Yoo Il-ho told reporters shortly after being tapped by President Park Geun-hye to be in charge of government policy on Asia's fourth-largest economy.

The Cabinet shake-up also affected the position of the education minister and the heads of three other ministries.

Yoo, a lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, also pledged to maintain the current expansionist economic policy laid down by the outgoing finance minister, noting economic policy measures require a degree of consistency.

The nominee, if confirmed by parliament, will also double as the deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs and replace Choi Kyoung-hwan, who is expected to run for parliamentary elections in April.

Yoo "is the right person to pursue economic revitalization by successfully carrying out the government economic policy," Kim Sung-woo, chief presidential press secretary, told reporters.

Yoo served as the head of the Korea Institute of Public Finance and transportation minister for about eight months this year.

Also Monday, Park nominated Lee Joon-sik, a mechanical engineering professor of Seoul National University, as the new education minister, who also doubles as deputy prime minister for social affairs.

Park tapped Joo Hyung-hwan, current vice finance minister as the new nominee for the country's minister of trade, industry and energy, while nominating an entrepreneur-turned-ruling party lawmaker Kang Eun-hee to lead the country's gender equality issues.

Also affected in the Cabinet shake-up is the post of interior minister. Park picked Hong Yun-sik, a former career civil servant who mostly worked in the prime minister's office, as the new interior minister.

The five nominees must go through a parliamentary confirmation hearing, though their nominations are not subject to parliamentary approval. In South Korea, the prime minister is the only Cabinet post that requires such approval.

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