South Korea’s President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol speaks during a press conference to discuss his plans to move the presidential office, at his transition team office, Seoul, South Korea South, March 20, 2022.Jung Yeon-je/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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SEOUL, April 10 (Reuters) – South Korea’s new President Yoon Suk-yeol appointed Choo Kyung-ho deputy prime minister and finance minister on Sunday as the country seeks to tackle soaring inflation, the household debt and the demand for social assistance.

Yoon, who takes office on May 10, announced eight minister appointments, including defence, industry, health and land. All are subject to confirmation parliamentary hearings.

As deputy prime minister, Choo, 62, would also serve as finance minister and oversee economic policy, replacing Hong Nam-ki.

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Choo is a second term lawmaker from Yoon’s conservative People Power party. He held government positions for 33 years, including Deputy Minister of Economy and Finance and Vice-Chairman of the Financial Services Commission.

His appointment came as Asia’s fourth-largest economy faces the challenge of repressing decade-long high inflation without destabilizing markets as the post-pandemic recovery continues.

Alongside Choo, Yoon said the candidate would facilitate policy coordination between agencies and with parliament.

“The current economic situation is extremely serious, and the internal and external circumstances are difficult,” Choo told a news conference, citing inflation and slowing growth.

“The top priority of the new government is to stabilize prices and people’s livelihoods.”

Last year, South Korea’s economy grew by 4.0%, its highest level in 11 years, but is expected to slow in 2022 and consumer inflation hit a high of 4, 1% in ten years, amid global supply shocks and disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

As a member of the Presidential Transition Committee, Choo worked to craft a supplemental fiscal plan to support small businesses and the self-employed who have been impacted by COVID.

Yoon appointed Lee Jong-sup, a retired military commander who previously served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as defense minister.

The new president is crafting his foreign policy agenda just as tension mounts after North Korea launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile last month. Read more

Lee said he would strengthen Seoul’s independent response capability and “maximize American deterrence” to counter threats from the North.

A team of Yoon’s foreign policy and security advisers said last week they discussed the redeployment of strategic US assets, such as nuclear bombers and submarines, to South Korea in talks with Washington officials. . Read more

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Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Cynthia Kim; Additional reporting by Jihoon Lee; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell, Michael Perry and William Mallard

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