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Tuesday, 10 September, 2002, 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK
New PM nominee for S Korea
Kim Suk-soo
Kim Suk-soo has a reputation for honesty
President Kim Dae-Jung of South Korea has named a former judge, Kim Suk-soo, as prime minister designate.

Kim Suk-soo, 69, is a former judge and was head of the country's National Election Commission.


The president seems to have focused on finding a figure who is neutral and clean

Lim Il-suk, analyst
He is the third person the president has named as his choice for prime minister. The previous two, a former newspaper executive and an academic, were rejected by the National Assembly, where the opposition holds a majority.

Experts say the president, keen to avoid the embarrassment of seeing another of his candidates being rejected, has opted for a man with a reputation for integrity.

President Kim's image has already been badly dented by a swathe of scandals involving two of his sons and top aides.

Background probe

The main opposition Grand National Party, which controls 139 seats in the 272-member National Assembly, said it will thoroughly check the new nominee's ethical background in a parliamentary hearing.

President Kim's initial nominee, Chang Sang, was vetoed by the National Assembly over controversy surrounding her resume and real estate transactions.

His second choice, Chang Dae-whan, was rejected over controversy surrounding company loans and a land deal he did not pay tax on.

Neutral candidate

Analysts said Mr Kim should be uncontroversial.

"The president seems to have focused on finding a figure who is neutral and clean," Lim Il-suk, a fellow at the LG Economic Research Institute, told Reuters.

Kim Dae-Jung
President Kim is keen to avoid further embarrassment

Mr Kim Suk-soo has been described by former colleagues as an "English gentleman," as well as "eloquent and witty".

In South Korea, the prime minister has relatively little power, although he is expected to step in if the president is incapacitated or dies.

On Tuesday Mr Kim stepped down as a non-executive director at Samsung Electronics, the world's biggest computer memory chipmaker after his nomination was announced.

Speaking after his nomination Mr Kim Suk-soo said the remaining term for President Kim's administration was crucial.

"The six months left for this government is short, but very important. This government's most imperative duty is to hold the presidential elections fairly."

The run-up to the presidential poll, scheduled for December, has been marked by political infighting.

See also:

28 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
09 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
08 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
02 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
31 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
11 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
08 Mar 02 | Country profiles
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