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(2nd LD) Chief of new disease control agency appointed in special ceremony at her local office

All News 15:05 September 11, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with Moon's visit to inter-agency task force in last para; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Sept. 11 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in attended a rare ceremony outside Cheong Wa Dae to appoint Jeong Eun-kyeong, South Korea's disease control czar, as head of a new agency to operate autonomously with more authority and workforce.

Jeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), has been tapped to lead the upgraded state body, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), which will be launched Saturday to replace the KCDC.

Moon made a visit to the KCDC headquarters in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, some 130 kilometers south of Seoul, to present her with a certificate of appointment in person.

Who is Jeong Eun-kyung, appointed as the first head of KDCA?

President Moon Jae-in (R) presents Jeong Eun-kyeong with a certificate of appointment as the first head of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) during a ceremony held at the emergency situation center of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, 130 kilometers south of Seoul, on Sept. 11, 2020. (Yonhap)

The move apparently reflects the public recognition of her dedicated service in the country's fight against COVID-19 and expectation for her role in the promoted position.

In South Korea, the prime minister usually bestows a letter of appointment on a vice ministerial official. It is also highly unusual for the president to hold such an appointment ceremony outside Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul.

"For me, I think, it's the first time to hold a ceremony outside Cheong Wa Dae to confer a letter of appointment on a high-ranking government official," Moon said.

He said he had considered Jeong's current situation in which she can't leave her work even for a moment.

Jeong's colleagues were present at the brief event instead of her family members.

Moon expressed hope that the new agency will play a bigger role, with its status enhanced.

Jeong Eun-kyeong (R), the first head of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), makes remarks with President Moon Jae-in standing next to her after receiving a certificate of appointment from him on Sept. 11, 2020. The ceremony was held at the emergency situation center of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, 130 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

He took note of public trust in the KCDC under Jeong's leadership.

Jeong pointed out that the new agency is being born in "this grave situation."

She said she is regarding its creation as reflecting the people's expectation for a "specialized, systemic and preemptive" response to novel infectious diseases that threaten their health and endanger society's safety.

She pledged that the KDCA will do its best as the "control tower" of the national campaign to overcome COVID-19 and prevent disease transmissions.

President Moon Jae-in (L) is greeted by officials at the Central Disaster Management Headquarters in the administrative town of Sejong, some 130 kilometers south of Seoul, on Sept. 11, 2020. (Yonhap)

Moon then visited the Central Disaster Management Headquarters on the coronavirus response, which is located in the nearby administrative town of Sejong, home to a government office complex. He expressed appreciation for its officials' service and encouraged them to keep up their work.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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