| President Park Geun-hye on Thursday nominated Ahn Dai-hee, a former Supreme Court justice, as her new prime minister. The nomination indicates Park`s intention to make a breakthrough in her political crisis caused by the administration`s poor handling of a ferry disaster with An`s reform-mindedness and ability to push ahead with key agendas. An is nicknamed "people`s prosecutor" after conducting a thorough investigation into high-profile illegal funds for presidential campaigns.
"We think that Ahn will successfully carry out the task of national rebuilding by reforming the officialdom and the government structure and powerfully push for the drive to end abnormal practices," presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook said.
An is a former prosecutor specializing in high-profile cases involving political bigwigs. From 2003 and 2004, when he was head of the Central Investigation Division of the Supreme Prosecutors` Office, he led the investigation into illegal presidential campaign funds raised by the Grand National Party, the predecessor of the current ruling Saenuri Party. The case provided President Park to take the leadership of the then troubled party. In addition, he arrested key aides to former President Roh Moo-hyun in a bribery case.
Ahn told a news conference that he would "erect upright the basics of society and the nation by reforming the officialdom through eliminating abnormal practices and corruption." He also vowed to advise the president with confidence so that the nation can "go in the right way and the normal way."
Born in Haman, South Gyeongsang Province, Ahn became the youngest public prosecutor at the age of 25 after passing a state-administered law examination at age 20 while he was a student of law at Seoul National University. Former President Roh also passed the same exam in the same year.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, Ahn joined President Park`s camp to head its special committee on political reforms. When Park recruited Han Kwang-ok, a formerly influential opposition politician, into her camp, Ahn opposed the decision and had a conflict with Park.
Many observers projected that the president would rule out former public officials and lawyers as her new prime minister to replace the incumbent Chung Hong-won, who was formerly a public prosecutor. While Ahn is a lawyer, he is considered a non-mainstream one who once clashed with Park. Therefore, Ahn`s nomination is interpreted as the president`s attempt to changer her leadership in the wake of the ferry disaster.
It is expected that the new prime minister will likely be the most powerful one in the country`s history, as he will likely be in charge of a new ministry to serve as the control tower for disasters and another one to oversee personnel of the entire government and state-run organizations. The presidential spokesman said that a Cabinet reshuffle will be made with the new prime minister`s recommendations.