Well, this is embarrassing. Kim Yong-joon, the prime minister nominee for the incoming administration, just withdrew his candidacy only five days after Park Geun-hye nominated him. This is only the second time in the Republic’s history that the very first PM nominee failed to become the prime minister. (The first occasion was in 1948, which barely counts given that Republic of Korea was just born.)
Kim, 74 years old, was a former chief justice of the Constitutional Court and the chairman of the transition committee. The fact that he had overcome polio to become one of the greatest jurists in Korea made him appear to be a solid, law-and-order type nominee. But within days, it was revealed that Kim’s two sons were exempt from their military service on rather suspicious grounds — the older one apparently did not weigh enough, and the younger one had gout. It was also revealed that, in the 1970s, Kim purchased substantial amount of real estate under the names of his sons (who were young children at the time,) based on the inside information he obtained as a judge. Apparently, the rising media pressure — foreshadowing a tough grilling from the DUP at the National Assembly hearing — was too much for the old judge to bear.
This stumble out of the gate obviously is not an auspicious start for the Park administration. Apparently, in order to maintain the confidentiality of the nomination, the transition committee did not go through much internal vetting process for fear of a leak.