President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday officially appointed Hong Jong-haak as minister of SMEs and startups in a move that was applauded by the ruling party but criticized by the opposition bloc.
Moon presented a letter of appointment before Tuesday's Cabinet meeting, which Hong also attended.
The president had asked the National Assembly to adopt a report on the results of Hong’s confirmation hearing by Monday, but the adoption failed to take place due to objection from opposition parties.
Hong, who is the nation’s first ever SMEs minister, is the fifth minister-level official to be appointed without the adoption of a parliamentary report under the Moon government.
The appointment drew mixed reactions from rival parties.
The ruling Democratic Party said the president made the right decision given that Hong’s qualifications and abilities have been fully verified. But the opposition camp blasted the move as "insolent" and "dogmatic," saying public criticism and anger was ignored.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party said that Hong lacks expertise in matters of SMEs and that he's also morally unfit for the role. Opposition parties also took issue with his family's property inheritance and controversial remarks made in the past.
With Hong’s appointment, President Moon has completed filling his Cabinet posts 195 days after he took office, which is the longest record to date.
The lengthy time it took to complete the Cabinet makeup was partly because President Moon was elected in an earlier-than-expected election following the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye. He was immediately sworn in after the election without a proper transition committee.
But the delay in the appointment of Cabinet ministers was also because many nominees did not meet the criteria of the five guidelines on personnel appointments set by the Moon administration.
As well as the controversy surrounding Hong’s appointment, the first nominee for the post Park Seong-jin was disputed over his historical and religious leanings. This has called into question the top office's vetting system.
With the tumultuous appointment process, Minister Hong is expected to focus on policy results, including implementing stronger sanctions on conglomerates committing unfair practices and increased support for smaller firms.
Meanwhile on the political scene, bipartisan cooperation is highly unlikely following the appointment, especially in regards to passing next year's budget proposal and various other bills pending in parliament.