By Kevin Lee
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol has finished the nomination of all 18 Cabinet positions ahead of the launch of his administration on May 10.
President-elect Yoon announced his nominees for agriculture and labor ministers on April 14 to complete his first Cabinet lineup. Earlier, Yoon announced the nominees for 16 ministers on two occasions on April 10 and 13.
Chung Hwang-keun, former head of the Rural Development Administration and a former presidential secretary for agriculture, was appointed agriculture minister, while Lee Jung-sik, former secretary general of the Korea Labor and Employment Service, was named for labor minister.
At a press conference, Yoon said, “Chung is the right person to not only resolve issues facing rural communities but also boost the competitiveness of the agriculture, forestry and livestock industries and develop them into future growth industries."
Yoon also said that Lee was chosen for his expertise on labor-management relations, saying, "He is the right person to draw a blueprint for the establishment of rational labor-management relations where the value of labor is properly respected."
With Thursday's announcement, Yoon filled all 18 Cabinet positions ahead of the launch of his administration. All 18 people, plus the prime minister nominee, will be subject to a parliamentary confirmation process, but only the prime minister nominee will require parliament's approval.
President-elect Yoon announced eight Cabinet nominees on April 13, including ministers of foreign affairs, unification and justice. Yoon also named his chief of staff.
Rep. Park Jin of People Power Party (PPP), a fourth-term lawmaker considered an expert on Korea-U.S. relations, was named foreign minister.
Park passed the state-run foreign service exam in 1977, became a diplomat and joined politics in 2001. He is known for extensive experience in parliamentary diplomacy. Earlier this month, he led a delegation on a weeklong trip to Washington to meet with White House and State Department officials and experts at think tanks.
Rep. Kwon Young-se of the PPP, a fourth-term lawmaker who served as Korean ambassador to China during the Park Geun-hye administration, was tapped as unification minister.
Yoon said Park is recognized for his expertise and experience in foreign affairs and security and is regarded as a strategic expert on U.S. diplomacy.
Yoon said he is expected to make a significant contribution to normalizing our diplomacy, which had fallen into a stalemate, and enable Korea to become a globally pivotal country that fulfills its responsibilities in solidarity with the international community.
On Kwon, Yoon pointed to his "moderate, pragmatic" approach and experience as ambassador and chairman of the National Assembly's intelligence committee.
"Based on his expertise and abundant experience in unification diplomacy, we determined that he is expected to usher in an era of genuine peace on the Korean Peninsula by normalizing inter-Korean relations based on principles," he added.
Meanwhile, Park said in a statement that foreign and security issues should not be approached through pursuing party interests, calling for a bipartisan strategy.
He said there are "numerous diplomatic tasks" for the Yoon Suk-yeol administration, including dealing with North Korean provocations, the U.S.-China conflict, Ukraine crisis, global supply chains, economic security, the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.
Yoon named Han Dong-hoon, vice president of the Judicial Research & Training Institute and a senior prosecutor, justice minister. Han worked under Yoon on a probe of a corruption scandal in 2016 that led to the impeachment and ouster of former President Park Geun-hye.
Han also led investigations of corruption cases against former President Lee Myung-bak and more recently on former Justice Minister Cho Kuk and his family.
Yoon said on Han, "He has held key positions in the Ministry of Justice and prosecution for 20 years, and has accumulated expertise in investigations, trials, the prosecution system and judicial administration."
Kim In-chul, former president of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS), was tapped as education minister, doubling as deputy prime minister for social affairs. He will lead the administration's educational reforms.
Han Wha-jin, a founding member of the Korea Environment Institute, was named environment minister. She is an expert in air pollution and climate change and served as presidential secretary for the environment in the Lee Myung-bak administration.
Lee Sang-min, former vice chairman of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission and a former judge, was picked as minister of the interior and safety.
Cho Seung-hwan, former president of the Korea Institute of Marine Science and Technology Promotion, was selected as minister of oceans and fisheries.
PPP Rep. Lee Young, a female businesswoman who founded an IT security company, was tapped as minister of SMEs and startups. She has a doctorate in cryptography from KAIST and served as a vice chair of the Korea International Trade Association (KITA).
Kim Dae-ki, a former presidential chief of staff for policy in the Lee Myung-bak administration, was named as Yoon's first chief of staff. He has held various posts at the Finance Ministry and served in the Roh Moo-hyun administration as a secretary for economic policies.
On April 10, Yoon also named eight Cabinet nominees including ministers of finance, trade, transportation and defense.
Yoon named Rep. Choo Kyung-ho as deputy prime minister for the economy and former Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Vice Chairman Lee Jong-sup as defense minister.
Lee Chang-yang, a professor of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, was named industry minister, while former Jeju Gov. Won Hee-ryong was named land minister.
Lee Jong-ho, chief of Seoul National University's semiconductor research institute, was named science minister, while Chung Ho-young, former chief of Kyungpook National University Hospital, was nominated for health minister.
Park Bo-gyoon, former vice president of the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, was named culture minister, and former Rep. Kim Hyun-sook was named minister of gender equality and family.
Yoon said Choo, a former economic bureaucrat, has been praised for his planning and coordination skills in conducting state affairs.
"I expect that he will use his expertise in public service and experience in parliament to establish a foundation for our economy to leap again and conduct smooth communication with the National Assembly," Yoon said.
On Defense Minister nominee Lee, Yoon said the Korea Military Academy graduate has held multiple key positions in the defense ministry and on the JCS, earning recognition for his expertise in military operations and crafting defense policy.
"He contributed greatly to the development of the South Korea-U.S. security alliance," Yoon said. "I expect he will establish firm security and a strong defense power while achieving close cooperation with our ally."