Foreign minister takes office, pledges reforms

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Foreign minister takes office, pledges reforms

Kim Sung-hwan took office as Korea’s new foreign minister yesterday, pledging to carry out deep-reaching reforms to rebuild the organization battered by a massive nepotism scandal.

“I feel a heavy responsibility to take office at a time when the people have high expectations for reforming the foreign ministry,” Kim said in an inauguration statement.

“We’re facing a grave situation after greatly disappointing the people and losing trust due to unfair personnel practices.”

Kim came to office about a month after his predecessor, Yu Myung-hwan, resigned amid a public uproar over irregularities involved in the ministry’s hiring of his daughter. A series of other cases of alleged favoritism have also emerged.

The government launched a special audit of the ministry that confirmed the ministry gave special favors to children of former and current senior diplomats or government officials in hiring and job placements.

The new minister said he will build a “fair” ministry by establishing a transparent personnel system and carrying out bold measures to overhaul the organization. He said he will thoroughly repair the hiring system and ensure appointments are made based on merit.

“However perfect a system is and however good a reform program is made, it is of no use if they are not carried out properly,” he said. “I will do my best to ensure fairness in personnel affairs so as to help the ministry be reborn as a fair and transparent organization.”

Kim, 57, is a career diplomat with more than 30 years of experience. He was the senior security aide to President Lee Myung-bak. Yonhap
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