World / Asia-Pacific

S. Korea carries out major cabinet reshuffle after ferry disaster

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-06-13 13:57

SEOUL - South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Friday carried out the first major reshuffle of her cabinet since her inauguration last year to regain public confidence lost after the ferry sinking disaster.

Presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook told a press briefing that President Park nominated seven new ministers to achieve the goal of great national reform and improved safety while strongly pushing for economic innovation and reform in education, society and culture that the South Korean society has demanded.

It was the first major cabinet shake-up since Park took office in February last year as seven of 17 ministers were newly named. On Thursday, Park replaced four of nine senior presidential secretaries for political, economic, civil and educational affairs.

Forming the new cabinet and advisory group reflected Park's eagerness to regain public confidence following the deadly ferry disaster.

The ferry Sewol capsized and sank off the southwestern coast on April 16, leaving more than 300 people, mostly high school students, dead or missing.

The Park administration has been under harsh criticism due to the bungling of its initial rescue operations and lax safety standards, which many claimed contributed to a surge in the victims.

Following the maritime disaster, Park's approval rating fell below 50 percent for the first time since she came to power.

Choi Kyoung-hwan, a lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party and former commerce minister, was named as the new finance minister who doubles as deputy prime minister for economic affairs.

The spokesman said Choi was anticipated to successfully complete President Park's three-year plan for economic innovation and make the economy a leap forward with his positive drive.

Kim Myung-soo, a former education university professor, was nominated as the education minister who doubles as deputy prime minister for social affairs, a post newly set during this reshuffle.

President Park also named new ministers of public administration, labor, culture, gender equality and science who should be taken under parliamentary confirmation hearing.

Minister of security and public administration was replaced as Jeong Jong-seop, a former dean of law school. The incumbent minister was criticized for the immature response to the ferry disaster.

The current minister of oceans and fisheries made a repeated offer to resign to take his responsibility for the ferry disaster, but he remained in office as rescue operations for the missing had yet to be completed, the spokesman said.

Kim Hee-jeong, a lawmaker of the ruling party, was nominated to the new minister of gender equality and family as the incumbent minister was named as senior presidential secretary for political affairs.

Choi Yang-hee, a computer science professor, was named as the new minister of science, ICT and future planning, and Jeong Seon- guen, president of Arirang TV, was nominated to lead the ministry of culture, sports and tourism.

Former vice labor minister Lee Ki-kwon was named as the new minister of employment and labor.

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