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South Korea gets new PM Kim Byong-joon

The moves are seen as an effort to soothe public anger over the scandal involving President Park’s friend Choi Soon-sil, who is in custody and under investigation by prosecutors

In the highest-level of shake-up yet since President Park Geun-hye’s administration was rocked by a scandal involving a friend accused of meddling in state affairs, South Korea’s president has named a new prime minister and finance minister.

Kim Byong-joon, a former senior presidential secretary during former president Roh Moo-hyun’s administration, was named the new prime minister to replace Hwang Kyo-ahn.

Presidential spokesman Jung Youn-kuk said: “The Blue House named Kim as the right person to lead the cabinet for the country’s future and to overcome current hardships.”

Yim Jong-yong, the Financial Services Commission chairman, was named the new finance minister and deputy prime minister. Yim, who will replace minister Yoo Il-ho, has been well-regarded by policy makers and market participants in his current role.

The moves – which also include a new minister of public safety and security, Park Seung-joo – were seen as an effort to soothe public anger over the scandal involving Park’s friend Choi Soon-sil, who is in custody and under investigation by prosecutors.

A public apology from Park on Tuesday for giving Choi access to draft speeches during the first months of her presidency has done little to deflect demands that Park reveal the full nature of her ties with Choi and whether she enjoyed favours because of her friendship with the president.

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