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Moon appoints new foreign minister

Chung Eui-yong, the foreign minister nominee, answers questions at a parliamentary confirmation hearing at the National Assembly on Friday. (Yonhap)
Chung Eui-yong, the foreign minister nominee, answers questions at a parliamentary confirmation hearing at the National Assembly on Friday. (Yonhap)

President Moon Jae-in appointed Chung Eui-yong as his new foreign minister on Monday, Cheong Wa Dae announced.
 
Chung, former director of national security at Cheong Wa Dae, will begin his tenure Tuesday. He replaces Kang Kyung-wha, the nation’s first female foreign minister and the longest-serving minister in Moon’s Cabinet.
 
Earlier in the day, the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee of the National Assembly, in which the ruling Democratic Party holds a majority, adopted the report for Chung during its session, while lawmakers from the main opposition People Power Party boycotted in protest.
 
The opposition party opposed Chung, a former top security adviser to President Moon, for his central role in what they called the failure of the current administration’s foreign affairs and national security policy, saying he should take responsibility.
 
The former career diplomat is considered a longtime aide to Moon and is credited with playing a key role in Moon’s engagement with Pyongyang. Chung’s nomination is seen as Moon’s last-ditch effort to revive the stalled inter-Korean ties amid the deadlocked US-North Korea denuclearization talks, as the president enters his final year in office.
 
Nominees for the ministerial job are required to undergo parliamentary confirmation hearings under local law. The parliamentary committee then adopts a report, and sends it to the president for his final approval. However, the president can appoint a nominee without the parliament’s consent.
 
Meanwhile, outgoing minister Kang left office Monday, after nearly four years as the country’s top diplomat, since June 2017. She reflected that her period at the ministry was the “most honorable” and “rewarding” time in her career, and expressed hope that her successor Chung, who played a central role in the Korean peace process, leads the ministry forward.
 
By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
 
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