SEOUL, Nov. 2 -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday reshuffled the cabinet by appointing a figure in the opposition bloc as new prime minister, but opposition parties agreed to boycott parliamentary hearing for new appointments citing lack of communications with the parliament.
The presidential Blue House said Park appointed Kim Byong-joon, former senior presidential policy secretary under late President Roh Moo-hyun, as new prime minister. Kim is currently a professor at the Kookmin University in Seoul.
Yim Jong-yong, chairman of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), the country's financial regulator, was tapped as new deputy prime minister for economic affairs who double as finance minister.
Park Seung-joo, former gender equality minister in the Roh Moo-hyun administration, was named as new minister of public safety and security upon recommendation of the new prime minister.
The cabinet reshuffle came amid snowballing allegations on Choi Soon-sil, who is suspected of peddling influence and intervening in state affairs behind the scenes by using her longtime friendship with President Park.
The first female South Korean leader reshuffled her presidential secretariat on Sunday, accepting resignations of eight secretaries that include the presidential chief of staff and senior secretaries for civil affairs and policy coordination.
An unidentified presidential official was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying the new prime minister will be given many of presidential rights to accept demand from the political sphere for forming a grand-coalition government.
Both ruling and opposition parties have called for appointing a politically-neutral prime minister and letting him choose cabinet members.
Park's reshuffle, however, failed to contain condemnations from opposition lawmakers and even from members of the non-President Park faction within the ruling party as the president named the second-highest cabinet member without any advance notice and discussion with the parliament.
Three opposition parties, including the main opposition Minjoo Party, minors People's Party and the Justice Party, reportedly agreed to boycott parliamentary hearings for all of newly appointed cabinet members who are required to get parliamentary approval to take office.
Choo Mi-ae, chairwoman of the Minjoo Party, told a party meeting that decision on the prime minister appointment was once again made unilaterally, while People's Party floor leader Park Jie-won said the cabinet reshuffle without any discussion and prior notice would just be a motive for public anger.
Some of the Saenuri Party lawmakers criticized the reshuffle as no prior notice was submitted even to the government party.
About 50 lawmakers of the non-President Park faction within the ruling party have called on the party leadership to voluntarily step down to take responsibility for the political crisis.