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(3rd LD) Park names ex-Constitutional Court chief to lead transition committee
SEOUL, Dec. 27 (Yonhap) -- President-elect Park Geun-hye on Thursday named a former Constitutional Court chief to lead her transition committee, her spokesman said, in a first step to take over the government and set major agenda items to pursue for the next five years.

   Kim Yong-joon, 74, who served as head of the top court in 1994, is expected to back Park's "firm belief in the rule of law and social safety" and make good preparations for the incoming administration to take over as smoothly as possible, Park's senior spokesman Yoon Chang-jung said.

Kim Yong-joon (Yonhap file photo)

Rep. Chin Young, a close Park aide of the ruling Saenuri Party, was named deputy chief of the transition team, the spokesman said. Chin is expected to oversee prioritizing campaign pledges and linking them to action plans in the course of setting the agenda and the administrative philosophy of the incoming government, he said.

   Kim, who suffered from poliomyelitis as a child, passed the state bar exam at age 19 and became the youngest judge in 1960 and the first disabled person to take office as a Supreme Court justice in 1988.

   Kim was one of the co-chairpersons of Park's election camp.

   "I will do my best as head of the committee to make sure to help President-elect Park carry out three major campaign promises" to care for the people, deliver on promises and unite the country, Kim told reporters.

   Kim also said he believes Park's selection of him shows she will focus on the rule of law.

Rep. Chin Young (Yonhap file photo)

Park created two new subcommittees, one on youth affairs and the other on national unity, in a move underscoring her commitment to addressing job and other problems faced by young adults and to close South Korea's deep social divides and bring the country together.

   Former lawmaker Han Kwang-ok, who hails from the opposition stronghold region of Jeolla and joined Park's campaign team in October, was named to head the national unity subcommittee, and Kim Kyung-jae, another Jeolla region politician, was named as Han's deputy.

   Rep. Kim Sang-min, 39, was named as head of the subcommittee on youth affairs. Kim had served as founding leader of a volunteer service network for college students before entering parliament on a proportional representation ticket in April's elections.

Han Kwang-ok (Yonhap file photo)

Thursday's appointments showed the importance Park puts on confidentiality in personnel affairs.

   The selection of Kim, in particular, came as a surprise. Ahead of the announcement, a series of names had been floated in the news media as possible candidates for the post, but Kim's was not among them.

   Earlier speculation had it that Park could select those with policy expertise, such as Kim Chong-in, the architect of Park's "economic democratization" pledge, and Ahn Dai-hee, who had spearheaded the political reform drive for the ruling party, or those who hail from the Jeolla region for the sake of national unity.

   Critics raised concern such hush-hush selections could lead to candidates not being properly vetted.

   The transition committee is expected to comprise about 20 top members that will head subcommittees by sector, such as those on the economy, foreign policy, welfare and political reforms. The total size of the committee is expected to be about 100-150 people.

   The team will be tasked with fleshing out Park's campaign pledges to set major agenda items that she will focus on after taking office for a five-year term. Park, who was elected South Korea's first female president in the Dec. 19 vote, will be officially sworn in this February.

   Park plans to operate the committee in a thoroughly business-like manner, aides said.