Multiple media sources are announcing that South Korean Prime Minister Lee Wan Koo has resigned, another major blow to the government of President Park Geun Hye. This will be the sixth appointment to the position of prime minister in barely two years.
The abrupt departure of Lee Wan Koo makes him South Korea’s shortest-serving prime minister since the 1980s. Lee had just been in office for nine weeks.
The prime minister is South Korea’s second-highest government post, and serves as deputy to the president, but political analysts note the position is largely ceremonial, and the PM doesn’t have much real political power.
More on resignation of South Korea’s PM
Lee offered his resignation several days ago relating to accusations he accepted bribes. A businessman who later committed suicide claims Lee accepted 30 million won (around $27,900) in illegal campaign funds during his 2013 national assembly campaign. The man made similar accusations about several other senior politicians, notably several of President Park’s close allies. The accused politicians have all denied the claims.
According to a public transcript of the resignation ceremony at his office on Monday, Lee stated that “the truth will eventually come out.”
A video clip showed Lee accepting a bouquet of flowers as he left his office. Of note, he is not resigning his position as a lawmaker in the national assembly.
South Korean prosecutors formed a special group to investigate the bribery scandal, but worries surfaced that Lee as the sitting prime minister might obstruct the probe into his own actions as he receives prosecution reports on the investigation.
Analysts point out that Park hasn’t yet nominated anyone to succeed Lee as the Korean PM. In most cases, nominees for the post must undergo parliamentary questioning. The questioning is often intense, and three earlier PM nominees removed their names from consideration after the grilling.
The initial prime ministerial candidate for the Park government withdrew back in early 2013 after a controversy over property speculation and abuse of his former post as chief justice of the constitutional court emerged.