ROK's Moon names confidant to drive improved ties with DPRK
CGTN

Republic of Korea (ROK) President Moon Jae-in has replaced his unification minister who played a major role in last year's detente with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), his office said on Friday, and named a longtime confidant to lead Moon's drive for "a new Korean peninsula".

Kim Yeon-chul, 55, a pro-engagement scholar who heads the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification, will replace Cho Myoung-gyon pending a confirmation hearing.

"He's the right man who can actively embody the president's vision for a new Korean peninsula, a new peace and cooperation community, by carrying out the Unification Ministry's main policy tasks without a hitch and implementing inter-Korean agreements in a speedy manner," said Moon's spokesman.

The change was part of Moon's largest cabinet reshuffle since taking office in 2017, with new ministers for the interior, land and transportation, culture and sport, oceans and fisheries, science and technology, and small and medium enterprises.

Kim Yeon-chul, a pro-engagement scholar who has headed the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification and a nominee for South Korean Unification Ministry, is seen in Seoul, March 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

Kim Yeon-chul, a pro-engagement scholar who has headed the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification and a nominee for South Korean Unification Ministry, is seen in Seoul, March 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

The shake-up allows incumbent aides to run in parliamentary elections next year, analysts said, and turns a page for an administration facing a sluggish economy and sagging popularity.

The removal of Cho, who has yet to say if he will enter politics, comes a week after the second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un failed to narrow their differences on dismantling the DPRK's nuclear program and U.S. willingness to ease sanctions.

The failed summit was a blow for Moon, who had hoped U.S. sanctions relief would boost the two countries' cooperation projects including a factory park, tourism zone and railway network.

The appointment of Kim Yeon-chul, a staunch backer of Korean reconciliation, may further improve ties with the North, officials said.

Kim is a North Korea studies professor and adviser to a previous administration in which Moon also served.

More recently, he advised Moon's office on Korean summits before moving to head the think tank affiliated with the Unification Ministry.

Source(s): Reuters