South Korea’s president-elect names conservative lawmaker as new finance chief


SEOUL, April 10 (Reuters) – South Korea’s new President Yoon Suk-yeol appointed Choo Kyung-ho deputy prime minister and finance minister on Sunday as the country seeks to tackle soaring inflation, the household debt and the demand for social assistance.

Yoon, who takes office on May 10, announced eight minister appointments, including defence, industry, health and land. All are subject to confirmation parliamentary hearings.

As deputy prime minister, Choo, 62, would also serve as finance minister and oversee economic policy and replace incumbent Hong Nam-ki.

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Choo is a second term lawmaker in Yoon’s conservative People’s Power Party, but served 33 years in government office, including as vice minister of economy and finance and vice chairman of the Financial Services Commission. .

His appointment came as Asia’s fourth-largest economy faces the challenge of repressing decade-long high inflation without destabilizing markets amid continued recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Standing together, Yoon said Choo would facilitate policy coordination between agencies and with parliament.

“The current economic situation is extremely serious, and the internal and external circumstances are difficult,” Choo told a news conference, citing inflation and slowing growth.

“The top priority of the new government is to stabilize prices and people’s livelihoods.”

Last year, South Korea’s economy grew at the fastest pace in 11 years, but is expected to slow in 2022 and consumer inflation is hovering at a decade high amid global supply and supply shocks. of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Choo, as a member of the Presidential Transition Committee, worked to craft a supplemental fiscal plan to support small businesses and the self-employed who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yoon also named Lee Jong-sup, a retired military commander who previously served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as his first defense minister.

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Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Cynthia Kim; Additional reporting by Jihoon Lee; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Michael Perry

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