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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 12:28 GMT
New PM for South Korea
Goh Kun
Goh Kun was known as Mr Clean whilst mayor of Seoul
South Korea's parliament has approved Goh Kun, a former Seoul mayor, as prime minister.

Mr Goh, who earned the nickname of Mr Clean for his campaign to wipe out corruption, was nominated by President Roh Moo-hyun, who took office on Tuesday.

President Roh had earlier appealed to the National Assembly to speedily sanction his choice after the opposition delayed, insisting on first voting for an inquiry into a political scandal.

That vote paved the way for an independent counsel to probe allegations that North Korea was secretly given hundreds of millions of dollars in the run-up to an historic inter-Korean summit in 2000.

The National Assembly, which is dominated by the opposition, eventually approved the 56-year-old Mr Goh's appointment by 163-81 votes.

Mr Goh has served as prime minister before, in 1997-98, under President Kim Young-sam.

He is known to be a reformist, like Mr Roh.

But there are fears that the opposition Grand National Party may still stifle the new president's ambitious agenda. The GNP holds a majority in the chamber, with 151 seats out of 272.

Goh Kun
Mr Roh wants to push through wide-ranging reforms

The Assembly's decision to pursue allegations over secret payments to North Korea could also act as a distraction.

Mr Roh's predecessor, Kim Dae-jung, has admitted that the Hyundai business group transferred $186m to Pyongyang with his government's knowledge shortly before the 2000 summit, but has argued that it was done in a spirit of national interest.

The new president has vowed to continue Mr Kim's policy of engaging with the North.

But the GNP has vowed to fully investigate the scandal, after state prosecutors dropped their inquiry.

"We believe that the substance of the criminal acts committed by the ruling Millennium Democratic Party and why they are trying to hide it will be revealed through independent counsel," said Park Jong-hee, spokesman for the GNP.

Wish list

Mr Roh outlined a wide-ranging agenda for his mandate during his inauguration speech on Tuesday, including economic and social reforms, and continued engagement with North Korea.

According to local media reports, Mr Roh and Mr Goh have already reviewed the list of nominees for top cabinet posts.

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24 Feb 03 |  Asia-Pacific

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