Seoul: South Korean President Park Geun-Hye finally got a new prime minister on her third attempt Monday, despite claims by opposition lawmakers that her nominee was morally unfit for the office.
Lee Wan-Koo, a senior legislator from Park`s ruling Saenuri party, was approved in parliament by 148 votes to 128 after a tortuous nomination process.
A largely symbolic post in South Korea where power is concentrated in the executive, the prime minister is the only cabinet member whose nomination requires parliamentary approval.
Outgoing premier Chung Hong-Won had resigned way back in April last year amid strident public criticism of the government`s response to the Sewol ferry disaster that claimed more than 300 lives.
President Park`s popularity ratings also plunged in the wake of the Sewol tragedy and her political fortunes were not helped by several failed attempts to appoint Chung`s successor.
Her first nominee, a retired Supreme Court justice, was forced to withdraw because of criticism over the large income he earned in private practice after leaving the bench.
The second, former journalist Moon Chang-Keuk, withdrew over comments he made suggesting Japan`s repressive colonial rule on the Korean peninsula was "God`s will".
Apparently fearful of another nominee battle, a chastened Park was left with little choice but to retrospectively reject Chung`s initial resignation.
Lee`s nomination when it came was a similarly fraught process.
The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) had urged him to withdraw voluntarily, accusing him of speculating in real estate and of buying a high-class apartment with illegal political funds.
At his confirmation hearing, NPAD also disclosed a recording of Lee`s conversation with reporters pressuring them to stop carrying negative reports about him.
A Gallup Korea survey in January found that Park`s approval rating hit an all-time low of 29 percent, posing a growing threat to her drive to resuscitate the sluggish economy.