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(LEAD) Four-term ruling party lawmaker named unification minister, NIS chief as national security director

Politics 16:21 July 03, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details; CHANGES photo)

SEOUL, July 3 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in nominated Lee In-young, a four-term ruling party lawmaker, as South Korea's new unification minister Friday in a shake-up of his security team aimed at providing fresh momentum to troubled efforts to improve inter-Korean ties and revitalize the peace process.

Moon also tapped Suh Hoon, head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), as new director of national security.

Lee, known for brisk involvement in peace-related activities as a lawmaker with the Democratic Party, is to succeed Kim Yeon-chul, who resigned days after North Korea's June 16 demolition of a joint liaison office in its border city of Kaesong. Pyongyang also cut cross-border communications, ostensibly in anger over anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent from the South.

Kim said he was taking responsibility for the great strain in inter-Korean relations.

Lee faces the National Assembly's confirmation hearing, but its approval is not a must for the president to appoint him.

Suh is replacing Chung Eui-yong as director of national security at Cheong Wa Dae. Chung's departure was widely expected, as he has served at the post since the launch of the Moon administration three years ago. Chung, in particular, has worked as Cheong Wa Dae's point man on the White House for consultations on North Korea and major alliance issues.

Moon's pick of Suh as his top security adviser is seen by some observers as heralding a shift in his approach in the tumultuous peace drive. Suh has expertise on the North Korea issue and reportedly has a relatively wide network of personal ties with officials in the communist neighbor.

These file photos show (from L to R) Park Jie-won, tapped as National Intelligence Service chief; Suh Hoon, new national security adviser; and Lee In-young, nominated as unification minister. (Yonhap)

The president also picked another political heavyweight -- former lawmaker Park Jie-won -- to lead the NIS.

Park was chief presidential secretary to late President Kim Dae-jung, who had a historic summit in 2000 with the North's then leader Kim Jong-il. Park was defeated in the April 15 parliamentary elections as a member of the minor opposition Party for People's Livelihoods.

Moon, meanwhile, has decided to appoint Chung and Im Jong-seok, former presidential chief of staff, as special advisers for diplomatic and security affairs, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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