South Korean President Moon Jae-in yesterday nominated a former navy chief as his defense minister, the president’s office said, as the government faces challenges tackling North Korea’s rapidly developing weapons program.
Nominee Song Young-moo is well-suited to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat, the presidential Blue House office said.
Under third-generation leader Kim Jong-un, North Korea has been conducting missile tests at an unprecedented pace in an effort to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the mainland US.
The North test-launched a new type of its cruise anti-ship missiles on Thursday, its fourth such test since Moon took office on May 10.
Song, who served in the navy for more than three decades, was Moon’s main security adviser during his 2012 presidential campaign.
A decorated veteran, Song took part in a 2009 skirmish between North and South Korean naval vessels off the western coast of the Korean Peninsula.
Song’s appointment does not need parliament’s approval, but he must attend a hearing and answer questions from lawmakers.
However, the Blue House said Song admitted to having falsely registered his residence information in the past, which is a criminal offense in South Korea.
Many of Moon’s ministerial choices have faced an uphill battle in parliament on this and other ethical issues, and lawmakers are likely to grill Song the same way.
Moon also tapped a human rights expert as justice minister tasked with reforming the prosecutors’ office, the president’s office said.
Ahn Kyong-whan, the former chairman of South Korea’s Human Rights Commission, now heads a non-profit legal foundation.
However, Ahn has no background as a prosecutor, which is unusual in a candidate for the ministerial role.
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