President-elect Park Geun-hye has named the head of her so-called transition team and former Constitutional Court judge Kim Yong-joon as her first prime minister.
Kim "is the right person to uphold the nation's laws and principles, to resolve fears about the public safety, and to open a new era where the weak are protected," Park told reporters Thursday.
Park has said she wants to rebalance the country's two top jobs, with the president tending to diplomacy, national security and macroeconomic policies, while the prime minister oversees domestic affairs. Under previous administrations the post of PM has been largely administrative.
Park's decision to choose a former judge underscores her priority on law and order and public safety. Another important factor was to promote social unity by protecting the underprivileged.
Kim is disabled from a polio infection when he was three years old. But he passed the national bar exam with the top score and since 1988 served for 12 years as a judge on the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court, where he gained a reputation for protecting the rights of minorities and the underprivileged.
If he passes a National Assembly confirmation hearing, he will return to public duty for the first time in 13 years. At 75 years of age Kim also sets the record as the oldest-ever nominee for prime minister.