Go to contents

Confusion over selection of next PM, presidential chief of staff

Confusion over selection of next PM, presidential chief of staff

Posted April. 18, 2024 07:48,   

Updated April. 18, 2024 07:48


President Yoon Suk Yeol reportedly considered appointing Park Young-sun, a former minister of SMEs and startups under the Moon Jae-in administration, as prime minister and Yang Jeong-cheol, a former head of the Institute of Democracy, as his chief of staff. As controversy escalated after news reports on this circulated, the presidential office denied the news reports, saying, "Such selection has never been considered." However, people in Yoon and First Lady Kim Keon-hee's inner circles said that it is true that such selection was considered, and the political fallout, including open criticism by the conservative ruling party, has been mounting. This controversy has thus exposed loopholes and difficulties in the ruling party’s efforts to self-reform to overcome the disastrous results of the April 10 general elections.

According to sources from Yoon's close confidants and the presidential office, Park and Yang were considered as the office was broadening the pool of candidates for the presidential chief of staff and the prime minister. The idea of giving the post of political affairs minister to New Future Party lawmaker Kim Jong-min, who defected from the Democratic Party, was also reportedly considered. A presidential office official who is also from Yoon's confidant group said Wednesday morning that it was indeed looking into the idea after news reports emerged. Yang is considered a confidant of former President Moon Jae-in and is known to have recommended Yoon for the post of prosecutor general during the Moon administration.

However, the public communications team at the presidential chief of staff’s office denied the report, saying, "It has never been considered. It's ridiculous.” As the controversy escalated, about three hours after the report, the presidential spokesperson's office officially denied the report, saying, "The selection of former Minister Park Young-sun, and Yang Jeong-cheol, former head of the Institute of Democracy, have not been considered." "President Yoon has never instructed us to consider it. It seems to be an idea that is not feasible," a senior official said.

Kwan-Seok Jang jks@donga.com