President Moon Jae-in on Friday pleaded with the opposition-led parliament for its approval of his nominee for the new foreign minister, claiming the nominee and her credentials have long been approved and praised by the international community.
The president's appeal for Kang Kyung-hwa came two days after the former U.N. official underwent her parliamentary confirmation hearing.
"However, the discussions at the National Assembly over its publication of a report on the outcome of the confirmation hearing seem to show little progress," Park Soo-hyun, a spokesman for the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, told a press briefing.
Park said the latest appeal for Kang came at the request from the president himself.
Kang had worked full time at the United Nations at least since 2006, and was serving as a special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the time of her nomination as South Korea's new foreign minister.
"As we all know, Kang is a person verified by the United Nations and the international community, and who had been given important positions and jobs by former U.N. Secretary-Generals Kofi Anan and Ban Ki-moon, as well as the incumbent Secretary-General Guterres," the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said.
The appeal came amid a strong objection from opposition parties against Kang over a series of her past wrongdoings that include false registration of address for her daughter and possible tax evasion.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party has publicly declared its decision to block Kang's appointment, noting false registration of address is one of five corruptive crimes the president himself has named as reasons to disqualify a person from a high government post.
The splinter opposition People's Party has also expressed its opposition against the foreign minister nominee.
Kang's appointment does not require parliamentary approval, but an appointment without the assembly's blessing may cast a political burden on the president and possibly forfeit Moon's chance to win much-needed support from the opposition bloc for his other nominees and policies.
The main opposition party alone controls 107 seats in the 300-seat parliament, while the whole opposition bloc, which also includes the conservative Bareun Party and the progressive Justice Party, has 173 seats. The ruling Democratic Party controls 120 seats.
The Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said Kang's appointment was extremely urgent as the first summit between Moon and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump is just around the corner.
The two are scheduled to meet in Washington in late June.
"(We) sincerely ask you to help Kang open a new era in our diplomatic relations based on her experience at the United Nations," Park said. "(We) ask you to publish a report on the outcome of her confirmation hearing at an early date." (Yonhap)