May 21, 2015 / 3:28 AM / 5 years ago

South Korea's Park names new PM after scandal strikes again

Korean President Park Geun-hye awaits the arrival of US Secretary of State John Kerry for a meeting at the Blue House in Seoul, Korea, May 18, 2015. REUTERS/Saul Loeb/Pool

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean President Park Geun-hye nominated her justice minister as prime minister after the incumbent stood down amid scandal - her sixth choice for the job since taking office in 2013.

Three of her nominees have stepped down before confirmation amid allegations of personal improprieties and two served, although the second also resigned amid scandal.

Lee Wan-koo stepped down as premier in April amid allegations he accepted illegal campaign funds from a businessman who committed suicide after telling a newspaper that he had given money to prominent politicians.

Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, a career prosecutor, “is the right person to uproot corruption across society and accomplish political reform so we can create a new country”, Park’s public affairs secretary said on Thursday.

Park has vowed to clean up political corruption as her ruling Saenuri Party tries to maintain its parliamentary majority in a general election to be held early next year.

The post of the prime minister is largely ceremonial as the formal head of the cabinet which is appointed by the president and administers policy set by the government and approved by parliament.

Public opinion polls released in the past week put Park’s support ratings at just above 40 percent, recovering slightly since April after slipping to their lowest point earlier this year.

Prosecutors have questioned Lee and another prominent ruling Saenuri Party politician on whether they received money from the dead businessman, Sung Wan-jong. Both have denied the allegations.

Reporting by Jack Kim and Seungyun Oh; Editing by Nick Macfie

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