New defense minister gets right down to workKim Kwan-jin, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was officially named South Korea’s new minister of national defense on Saturday.
“If North Korea chooses to partake in military provocation against our land and our people, they should be punished in an immediate and powerful manner,” said Kim in his inauguration speech at the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul.
About 400 people attended the event, including former Defense Minister Kim Tae-young and Gen. Walter Sharp, commander of the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces.
Kim chose to fly straight to Yeonpyeong Island in a helicopter almost immediately after his inaugural ceremony.Heading to the military base on the island, Kim acknowledged the marines on the island base for their work, encouraging them for their response the day of the attack.
“Your will to battle the best you could as shells were falling is highly appreciated,” Kim said before going on to examine the base’s control room, radar facility and K9 howitzers.
The defense minister also spent part of the day walking through areas hit by North Korean shells, still strewn with rubble and blocks of cement. During his visit to one of the air-raid shelters, which were criticized for being in poor condition during the North Korean attack, Kim ordered they be modernized for the islanders’ safety.
“These were built in the 1970s, and because they are so old, I will speak with related ministers and build new facilities,” Kim said.
The defense minister spent his second day in office on the west coast’s front lines, sitting down with soldiers and offering more words of encouragement.
By Christine Kim [email@example.com]