Ex-navy chief nominated as S. Korean defence minister

SEOUL • South Korea's President Moon Jae In yesterday nominated a former navy chief as his defence minister, the President's office said, as the government faces challenges tackling North Korea's rapidly developing weapons programme.

The nominee, Mr Song Young Moo, is well suited to deal with the North's nuclear and missile threat, the presidential Blue House office said.

Mr Song, who served in the navy for more than three decades, was Mr Moon's main security adviser during his recent presidential campaign, reprising a similar role in Mr Moon's 2012 presidential campaign.

A decorated veteran, he took part in a 2009 skirmish between naval vessels of both sides off the western coast of the Korean peninsula.

Mr Song's appointment does not need parliamentary approval, but he must attend a hearing and answer questions from lawmakers.

The Blue House said Mr Song admitted to having falsely registered his residence information in the past, a criminal offence in South Korea. Many of Mr Moon's ministerial choices have faced an uphill battle in Parliament on this and other ethical issues, and Mr Song is likely to be grilled the same way.

Mr Moon also tapped a human rights expert as justice minister tasked with reforming the prosecutors' office, the President's office said.

Mr Ahn Kyong Whan, the former chairman of South Korea's Human Rights Commission, now heads a non-profit legal foundation, but has no background as a prosecutor, unusual in a candidate for the ministerial role.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2017, with the headline 'Ex-navy chief nominated as S. Korean defence minister'. Subscribe