President names new minister, security chief

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President names new minister, security chief

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Hong Suk-woo / Eo Cheong-soo

Filling up two key posts vacated by scandals, President Lee Myung-bak yesterday named the head of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) as his new minister of knowledge economy and a former commissioner of the National Police Agency as the new head of the Presidential Security Service.

Hong Suk-woo, 58, will replace Choi Joong-kyung to lead the Ministry of Knowledge Economy after Choi resigned to take responsibility for last month’s nationwide blackouts.

A veteran civil servant in commerce policy making, Hong was appointed head of Kotra only in June.

“With his 30 years of knowledge and expertise, we believe he will be able to resolve pending issues and lead the ministry with stability and pragmatism,” the Blue House said.

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Hong is a native of Cheongju, North Chungcheong, and passed the civil servant exam in 1980 to begin his career at the Ministry of Commerce. He specializes in industrial and trade affairs and has garnered attention for his policies to support small companies, the Blue House said.

The Blue House also named Eo Cheong-soo to replace Kim In-jong as head of the Presidential Security Service. Kim resigned earlier this month following public outcry over the purchase of land to build a retirement home for the president. Kim was in charge of the project.

Eo, 55, served as head of the National Police Agency under the Lee administration from 2008 to 2009. A native of Jinju, South Gyeongsang, Eo began his law enforcement career in 1980. He has served in key posts, including as head of the police agencies in South Gyeongsang, Busan, Gyeonggi and Seoul.

“He has rich experience in security details and intelligence,” the Blue House said. “He also has the ability to work in harmony with others, so we believe he will be an effective head of the Presidential Security Service. We have high expectations for him to coordinate operations smoothly with the military and the police.”

The head of the Presidential Security Service has usually been a former military officer. Kim Seo-ok, who served under the Roh Moo-hyun administration, had been the only former police official to be head of the service.

The opposition Democratic Party condemned Eo’s appointment, however.

“When he served as the country’s police chief in 2008, Eo used violent force to put down the candlelight rallies and protected the president despite public criticism,” said DP spokesman Lee Yong-sup.

“He may be a perfect candidate for the job because of his blind loyalty to Lee, but it is a problem that Eo thinks the job is about reigning over the people.”

The spokesman added, “It is deplorable to see this situation because the appointment came only a few hours after the president said he would accept heavyheartedly the people’s will expressed in the by-election.”


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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