Four-term lawmaker tapped to lead unification ministry

SEOUL-- Rep. Kwon Young-se, tapped as the incoming Yoon Suk-yeol administration's first point man on North Korea, is a prosecutor-turned-lawmaker who has played a key role in Yoon's path to the presidential office.

The four-term People Power Party (PPP) lawmaker, who currently serves as the vice chairman of the transition team and worked as the party's presidential campaign committee chief, is considered as one of Yoon's closest confidants.

If appointed after the National Assembly's confirmation hearing, the political bigwig will be tasked to deal with North Korea amid soured inter-Korean relations and the Kim Jong-un regime's evolving nuclear and missile threats. He served as Seoul's ambassador to Beijing from 2013-2015 and chairman of the parliament's intelligence committee in 2010.

Observers are paying attention to the stature of the ministry in charge of inter-Korean affairs under Kwon's leadership, given his political influence.

Born in Seoul in 1959, Kwon studied law at Seoul National University and started his career as a state prosecutor in the 1980s.

He earned a master's degree in public administration from Harvard Kennedy School in 2001 before joining politics the next year, when he won a parliamentary seat for the then main conservative Grand National Party in the by-election.

Kwon won two more successive terms before serving as ambassador to China under the Park Geun-hye administration. He returned to the National Assembly in 2020, winning a parliamentary seat for the PPP after two failed attempts in 2012 and 2016.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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