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(LEAD) Park retains Prime Minister Chung

2014/06/26 11:05

SEOUL, June 26 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye on Thursday retained Prime Minister Chung Hong-won, a sign that underscores the difficulty in finding a qualified nominee for the country's No. 2 job.

Chung offered to quit in April following a deadly ferry disaster, but Park turned down his resignation offer and asked him to keep his job, said Yoon Doo-hyun, the senior presidential press secretary.

Park took the step as she "could not leave the situation as it is" at a time when the country is divided over a series of issues exposed by the process leading to a parliamentary confirmation hearing, said Yoon.

The move came two days after Park's second choice for prime minister withdrew his nomination amid mounting criticism of his alleged pro-Japanese views.

Moon Chang-keuk, a former conservative journalist, was accused of being pro-Japanese over his past controversial speech and columns, a charge he adamantly denied.

Moon is believed to be a grandson of an independence fighter against Japan during its 1910-45 colonial rule, the government said Monday, a move that may help Moon restore his reputation sullied by the accusation.

The collapse of Moon's nomination dealt yet another blow to Park, who already suffered a setback last month when her first choice for prime minister withdrew his nomination.

Park has carried out a Cabinet reshuffle and replaced presidential secretaries in an apparent attempt to restore public confidence in her administration rocked by the ferry disaster in April that left more than 300 people dead or missing.

entropy@yna.co.kr

(END)

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