Moon appoints former security adviser as new foreign minister

Seoul, Jan 20 (efe-epa).- South Korean President Moon Jae-in has appointed his former national security adviser Chung Eui-yong as foreign minister in a partial Cabinet reshuffle, the presidential office reported Wednesday.

Chung, 74, will replace Kang Kyung-wha, 65, who has been the foreign minister since Moon took office in 2017.

“I think it’s my last chance to serve the country. I take this nomination as a candidate for public office with a humble and solemn heart,” Chung told reporters, according to Yonhap news agency.

Chung’s appointment is part of a partial Cabinet reshuffle, in which Moon also nominated Hwang Hee and Kwon Chil-seung, both lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party, as the new culture minister and minister of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and startups respectively, presidential Blue House spokesperson Chung Man-ho announced.

The nominees must still be confirmed for the posts by the country’s National Assembly – the unicameral legislature – on dates that are yet to be announced.

“If confirmed, I will do my utmost so that the foreign policy pursued by the Moon Jae-in government can bear fruit and the Korean Peninsula peace process can take root,” Chung added.

Chung Eui-yong has served as Moon’s chief national security adviser for three years since the start of his mandate and played a key role in the thaw in relations between South Korea and the North in 2018.

He headed the working teams that paved the way for a summit between the leaders of the two countries that year.

He also served as an intermediary between North Korea and the United States before denuclearization talks between them stalled after the failed summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in 2019.

Chung’s nomination took place hours before Joe Biden’s inauguration as president of the US and is interpreted as a reflection of Moon’s willingness to reactivate the stalled denuclearization negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington, as well as bilateral dialog.

A graduate of his hometown Seoul National University, Chung entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1972. He built his career in multilateral diplomacy and US affairs, and has held positions both domestically and internationally, including in the US, Canada and Thailand.

During 2001-2004, Chung was South Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations and was ambassador to Israel between 1997-1998. EFE-EPA


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