Two former CEOs of Woori Bank, as well as the incumbent, have applied to take over the helm of Woori Financial Group, along with 10 other candidates.
As the new chief's first task would be to privatize the state-funded group, the three with hands-on experience are considered the strongest candidates because they are familiar with Woori's internal affairs.
Officials of the group said Monday that the one-week application period ended at 5 p.m. and that 13 people are seeking the appointment. Although the group did not publicly advertize the position, some figures admitted they had applied.
The selection process started after Chairman Lee Pal-seung tendered his resignation last month. He was one of the chiefs of banking groups appointed under the administration of former President Lee Myung-bak and was pressured to quit by the new government.
The three strong candidates are former Woori Bank chiefs Lee Duk-hoon and Lee Chong-hwi and current CEO Lee Soon-woo. They all worked together previously when Lee Duk-hoon was chief.
Lee Duk-hoon, currently head of Keystone Private Equity, was also vice chairman of the group between 2001 and 2004. He was in charge of taking over Hanil Bank. He is a graduate of Sogang University, which Park also attended.
Lee Chong-hwi, who started his career at Hanil, was chief of the bank from 2008 to 2011. He is now chairman of the Credit Counseling and Recovery Service.
The bank's current CEO, Lee Soon-woo, is a strong candidate because he has a good understanding of the group's current issues.
Two more Woori figures also applied: group Vice President Kim Jun-ho and former executive director Yoon Sang-gu. Yoon previously made a bid for the banking arm's chief position in 2011 but failed.
Other candidates include Kim Eun-sang, former vice chief of Standard Chartered Korea; Ryu Si-wang, former adviser to Hanwha Investment & Securities; Pyo Hak-kil, professor at Seoul National University; and Kook Chan-pyo, a professor at Sogang University.
Former economy-related government officials, who were rumored to be going to apply, didn't. Among these were Yim Jong-yong, former minister of the Prime Minister's Office; Chin Dong-soo, former FSC chairman; and Jun Kwang-woo, former National Pension Service chairman and also former FSC chairman.
Several other figures are also rumored to have applied _ Kim Kwang-doo, chief of the Institute for the Future of State, Park's think tank; T-Stone Chairman Min Euoo-sung, who also worked for Woori Financial and was chairman of KDB Financial Group; and former Shinhan Investment Vice Chairman Lee dong-geol, who helped Park during her election campaign.
Woori's committee to recommend a new chief will review the applicants' documents and interview them before selecting a single nominee. It is said the committee will seek Park's consent before finalizing the nomination when she comes back from her visit to the U.S. this Friday, although presidential approval is not an officially required process.
The board of directors will then vote to approve the nominee at a temporary meeting. The meeting schedule has not been decided yet, but it is expected the new chief will be decided by the middle of next month.