Wed, Jan 05, 2005 - Page 5 News List

South Korean President Roh replaces cabinet ministers

SHAKE-UP The ministers were replaced to re-energize the Cabinet and seek new ideas, but the key defense, foreign affairs and economic positions were unaffected

AFP , SEOUL

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun yesterday replaced six ministers in a reshuffle aimed at re-energizing his Cabinet heading into the third year of his five-year term, officials said.

Key defense, foreign affairs and economic posts were unaffected in the move that brought in new ministers of education, agriculture, home affairs, government legislation, gender equality and maritime affairs.

"They [the departing ministers] might have exhausted their ideas and passion and become victims of stagnation after two years of service," Roh, who took office in February 2003, told a Cabinet meeting. He said he expected a dynamic response from the new appointees.

"I want each ministry to present a blueprint to the people for advancing South Korea at the start of my third year in office."

Roh named former Seoul National University president Lee Ki-jun as education minister to replace Ahn Byung-young who has been under fire over a recent cheating scandal involving a state-run college admission test.

South Korean police last month rounded up some 300 people, mostly high school pupils, for cheating on the Nov. 17 test by using mobile phones to exchange text-written answers or fielding substitutes. The cheating scam rocked South Korean society in which a good college education holds the key to wealth and status.

In the reshuffle, Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency president Oh Young-kyo was appointed home affairs minister.

Jang Ha-jin, former head of the state-run Korea Women's Development Institute, was named gender equality minister and former Busan City Mayor Oh Geo-don as minister of maritime affairs.

Park Hong-soo, a ruling Uri Party lawmaker, became agriculture minister while Kim Sun-wook, an Ewha Woman's University professor, took over the ministry of government legislation.

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