February 16, 2015 / 9:10 AM / 3 years ago

South Korea parliament backs Park's third attempt to replace PM

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s parliament narrowly approved President Park Geun-hye’s nominee for prime minister on Monday, more than eight months after she first tried to replace the incumbent, with two others pulling out amid controversy over personal issues.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye speaks during her New Year news conference at the presidential Blue House in Seoul January 12, 2015. REUTERS/Jung Yeon-Je/Pool

Park’s conservative Saenuri Party used its parliamentary majority to confirm Lee Wan-koo, 64, despite opposition parties’ objection that he was the wrong person for the job and threats to block the government’s economic stimulus bills.

Approval for Lee eases the political burden on Park after she repeatedly failed to make a key appointment, but the narrow 148-128 win could complicate her ability to win parliamentary backing for measures to boost the economy.

Public support for Park is at the lowest since she took office in early 2013, having dipped below 30 percent in January.

Park had tried to replace her prime minister, Chung Hong-won, who resigned to take responsibility for a ferry disaster last April, but retained him after two nominees withdrew amid controversy over personal issues, in what proved an embarrassing setback for the president.

Lee, the new prime minister, is a political veteran, having had stints at the Finance Ministry and the police, and was elected provincial governor and to parliament for three terms.

Reporting by Jack Kim and Kahyun Yang

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