Han Duk-soo emerges as strong PM candidate amid Ahn’s withdrawal

Mar 31, 2022, 08:43 am

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Ahn Cheol-soo, the chairman of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s presidential transition committee, speaks during a press conference at the committee’s office in Seoul on March 30, 2022./ Source: Presidential Transition Committee Press Corps

AsiaToday reporter Lee Wook-jae 

As Presidential Transition Committee Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo has withdrawn Wednesday from consideration for prime minister in the coming government, the selection process for the Yoon Suk-yeol government’s first prime minister is expected to gain speed. As Yoon is said to seek a candidate who can handle both economic and security issues, former Prime Minister Han Duk-soo has emerged as a strong prime minister candidate.

“I made the decision believing that not directly participating in the Cabinet will ease the burden on President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol for setting the direction for the next government,” Ahn said during a press conference held at the committee’s office. “I have no thoughts about running in the local elections,” he said. 

Ahn, who had been considered as a strong candidate for prime minister after dropping out of the presidential election to endorse Yoon, chose a different path, and the selection process is expected to accelerate. Political observers say the first prime minister of the Yoon government is likely to be a candidate Yoon prefers the most. 

In that respect, Han Duk-soo seems to lead other candidates. As Yoon decided to appoint a prime minister who can handle both economic and security issues, the former prime minister has emerged as a leading candidate. 

“What the President-elect is focusing is the people’s livelihood, which can be considered as ‘the economy,’” an official from the President-elect’s side said. “Apart from handling economy, a prime minister requires leadership skills to mediate opinions with ministers. And such leadership goes to diplomacy as well.”

“In terms of policy direction, the next prime minister needs to handle economic and security issues,” the official added. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Seoul National University and a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University. He served as Vice Minister at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. Under the Roh Moo-hyun government, Han was nominated as Prime Minister in 2007 after serving as Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs In 2009, he served as the ambassador to the United States under the Lee Myung-bak government. He is known as a trade expert with diplomatic insight.

Besides, given that Han is a native of Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, who worked for liberal governments, there is speculation that it would not be easy for the ruling Democratic Party (DP) to oppose him strongly. 

Other prime minister contenders include former Financial Services Commission Chairman Lim Jong-ryong, and former Knowledge Economy Minister Choi Joong-kyung.

#Han Duk-soo #prime minister 
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