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(LEAD) President names new defense chief, four other ministers

All News 15:41 June 11, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks from a Cheong Wa Dae spokesman, additional information in paras 4, 7-14)

SEOUL, June 11 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Sunday named five new ministers, including a new vice prime minister and minister for education, and a new defense minister.

Kim Sang-kon, a former school superintendent of Gyeonggi Province, has been tapped as the new education minister, who will double as a vice prime minister, according to the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

Song Young-moo, a retired Navy admiral, has been named the new defense minister.

"Defense Minister nominee Song is the best person to spearhead a long, mid-term military reform, ensure balanced development of the three armed forces and enhance the country's defense against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats," Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun told a press briefing.

Ahn Kyong-whan, a well-known scholar and professor from Seoul National University, has been tapped as the new justice minister, with Kim Eun-kyung, a former presidential secretary under the late former President Roh Moo-hyun, named to head the environment ministry.

Cho Dae-yop, a professor from Seoul's Korea University, has been nominated to lead the labor ministry.

The nominations for five new ministers brought to 12 the total number of ministers named so far by the new president, who came into office May 10.

However, only two new Cabinet members have actually been appointed out of the total 19.

The nominations for the new ministers also come amid a controversy over those named earlier.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party is currently refusing to endorse the president's pick for the new foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, over a number of her past wrongdoings that include false registration of residence for her daughter.

False registration of address is a crime punishable by up to three years in jail or a fine of less than 10 million won (US$8,900), but more importantly, it is one of five unlawful activities the president has cited as reasons that would and should disqualify a person from a government post.

Cheong Wa Dae officials said Song, the defense minister nominee, had also committed a crime of false registration of residence.

They, however, insisted Song's case marked a simple mistake caused by his frequent relocation as a military officer, apparently asking the opposition to show leniency.

The officials noted the labor minister nominee, Cho, had also been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), a crime that has often kept new officials from top government offices here in the past.

Cho's DUI did not lead to any serious accidents or injuries, they said, again apparently asking for the opposition parties' understanding.


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