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(LEAD) President appoints new Constitutional Court chief

17:10 November 24, 2017

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES with more details, additional information and minor changes throughout; REPLACES photo)

SEOUL, Nov. 24 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in appointed a new head of the Constitutional Court on Friday, making the court's nine-member panel whole for the first time in nearly 10 months.

The new chief justice, Lee Jin-sung, was appointed in a ceremony held at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae only hours after the National Assembly approved his appointment in a 254-18 vote.

"I express my gratitude to the National Assembly, which endorsed Lee's appointment in an overwhelming vote today," the president said, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.

The vote came two days after Lee underwent a parliamentary confirmation hearing. The 62-year-old has been serving as a Constitutional Court justice since 2012.

President Moon Jae-in (R) shakes hands with new Constitutional Court Chief Justice Lee Jin-sung after appointing him to the post in a ceremony held at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Nov. 24, 2017. (Yonhap)

Lee replaced former Chief Justice Park Han-chul, who retired in January.

The president earlier sought another incumbent justice, Kim Yi-su, as the new head of the Constitutional Court, but the opposition-parliament had voted down his designation.

Also at Friday's ceremony President Moon appointed the latest member of the court, Yoo Nam-seok.

"The Constitutional Court has become whole for the first time in a long time as we now have all nine justices, with the vacancy in the top post removed," the president said.

Yoo, a former head of the high court in Gwangju, located some 370 kilometers south of Seoul, was informally appointed Nov. 10, only hours after the parliament issued a report on the outcome of his confirmation hearing. He was designated a new Constitutional Court justice on Oct. 18.

Under current law, only the new chief justice is required to win parliamentary approval before appointment.



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