SEOUL (BLOOMBERG) - South Korean President Moon Jae-in named a former Parliament Speaker known for working with the opposition to be prime minister, as he looks to avoid another bruising appointment fight before next year's general election.
Mr Moon nominated veteran Democratic Party lawmaker Chung Sye-kyun, who served as Speaker from 2016 to 2018, to head his government in a televised briefing on Tuesday (Dec 17) in Seoul.
Mr Chung, 69, will replace Mr Lee Nak-yon, who is expected to run in April's legislative elections after becoming the longest-serving prime minister since South Korea's transition to democracy.
"He has the ability to work well with the opposition party for us to reach an agreement within the National Assembly," Mr Moon said of Mr Chung. "He will also bring security and harmony in our society."
Mr Chung enjoyed broad support in Parliament during his two terms as Speaker, which has traditionally played a mediating role in South Korean politics, minimising the threat of resistance from opposition lawmakers.
Mr Moon saw his poll numbers slip to record lows in October after forcing through the appointment of a former close aide as justice minister, only to see him resign weeks later.
Mr Moon passed over another ruling party lawmaker, Mr Kim Jin-pyo, for the prime minister's job due to criticism from organised labour group over his perceived conservative economic positions such as opposing taxation on religious figures, the DongA Ilbo newspaper reported earlier this month.
Mr Chung, who has been elected to six terms in the National Assembly, previously served stints as the Democratic Party chief and as minister of commerce, industry and energy.
His appointment as prime minister is seen as a way to pave the way for Mr Lee to run in the April 15 election, the Maeil Business Newspaper reported on Tuesday.