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Roh names new defense, justice ministers
Updated: 2004-07-28 14:46

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun accepted the resignation of Defense Minister Cho Young-kil on Wednesday and tapped his aid for defense affairs Yoon Kwang-ung to replace Cho, said a presidential spokesman.

Roh also named former Vice Justice Minister Kim Seung-kyu to replace Justice Minister Kang Kum-sil, according to Roh 's spokesman Kim Jong-min.

It is the second minor reshuffle of Roh's cabinet since he resumed his power by the ruling of the Constitutional Court against the impeachment in May.

Roh replaced the ministers of unification, culture and tourism, health and welfare on June 30.

Roh replaced Cho Young-kil and Kang Kum-sil as the two had difficulties in effectively controlling their respective ministries, local media quoted sources at the Presidential Office as saying. Cho and Kang are lack of background of military and prosecution respectively before appointed as ministers.

The newly named Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung, who has been working as Roh's senior aide for defense affairs since January, was cited for his ability to effectively control the military and his excellent job performance.

Cho expressed his intention of resigning on Tuesday, taking responsibility for the dispute over the Navy's firing of warning shots against a ship of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) earlier this month.

The South Korean navy fired two warning shots to a DPRK patrol boat as it crossed the controversial inter-Korean sea border, the Northern Limit Line (NLL), on July 14.

Initially, the South Korean navy said the DPRK ship ignored repeated radio warnings from South Korea. But later the South Korean military acknowledged that it received three radio messages from the DPRK's navy, including one before firing warning shots.

The two sides set up a hotline between navies according to an unprecedented agreement between Seoul and Pyongyang to avoid armed clashes at the disputed border in this June.

The DPRK has not accept the conception of the NLL, while South Korea holds it is the de facto inter-Korean sea border. Navies of the two countries had two naval skirmishes in 1999 and 2002 which resulted in heavy casualties on both sides around the NLL.

The controversy deepened as Lt. Gen. Park Seung-chun, the chief information analyst at the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered his resignation Monday to take responsibly for leaking sensitive data on the incident to win public backing for the navy against the presidential office.

Roh instructed the military to investigate the incident carefully and ordered the Defense Ministry to conduct light punishment to relative officers.

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