South Korean president names female new prime minister

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on Friday nominated ruling party lawmaker Han Myung-sook as the country's new prime minister, the first time a woman has been named for the government's No. 2 position.

The nomination, which must be approved by parliament, came a week after Lee Hae-chan stepped down as prime minister following strong public and opposition criticism for playing golf rather than overseeing the government's response to a railway strike on a national holiday on March 1.

Han is a two-term lawmaker who was minister of gender equality and family under former President Kim Dae-jung, and previously served as environment minister under Roh.

The prime minister is largely a ceremonial job in South Korea where power is concentrated in the president's office.

However, Roh has increasingly been viewed as a lame duck, with his approval ratings sliding to record lows after a failed attempt to form a grand coalition with the opposition and a stall in the country's economy.

Roh took office in 2003 and is constitutionally barred from running again, but last month he suggested that even the single five-year term for the country's president might be "a little too long," reports the AP.


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