Park Geun-hye names jurist Ahn Dai-hee South Korea's new prime minister

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 May, 2014, 11:27pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2018, 5:35pm

South Korean President Park Geun-hye yesterday named a former supreme court justice with a reputation for fighting corruption as prime minister to replace an incumbent who resigned over the government's slow response to last month's ferry disaster.

Park meanwhile accepted the resignations of two of her top security officials for their handling of the tragedy.

Incoming premier Ahn Dai-hee will be mandated to oversee the reform of government structures, Park's spokesman Min Kyung-wook said. "We believe he is the person who will successfully restructure the country by pushing through reforms of bureaucracy and government and normalising what has been abnormal in our society," Min said.

Park also yesterday accepted the resignations of the director of the National Intelligence Service, Nam Jae-joon, and Kim Jang-soo, the head of the National Security Council. Both Nam and Kim had come under intense criticism over their inaction when the disaster struck.

Ten days after the ferry Sewol capsized and sank on April 16 on a routine journey, prime minister Chung Hong-won offered his resignation amid an outpouring of anger over the pace of the rescue operation. More than 300 passengers died, most of them schoolchildren.

Authorities have offered a reward equivalent to nearly US$50,000 for the capture of Yoo Byung-un, the head of the family that owns the operator of the ferry that sank. Police have handed out leaflets with Yoo's photograph, which was also posted online. The manhunt has included a search of both Yoo's house and the rural compound of a church that he co-founded, but he has eluded capture after ignoring summonses to appear for questioning.

Reuters, Agence France-Presse