Song named defense head despite fierce opposition
“President Moon appointed Song because he couldn’t delay reform for national defense anymore,” said Park Soo-hyun during a press briefing at the Blue House.
Park added that the Blue House felt it was necessary to ensure the public of the country’s defense readiness with Song’s appointment as military chief, especially amid rising tensions sparked by North Korea’s provocations.
Despite the opposition’s rejection, Moon pushed ahead with Song just as he did for Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, who was opposed for having used a fake residence. Moon’s choice of the former Navy general was seen as a sign of his resolve to reform the military, as Song hails from the Navy, not the Army, which has long dominated the top ranks of the military. The former four-star general is known for his progressive military agenda and interest in rights.
Meanwhile, Moon’s labor minister nominee, Cho Dae-yop, withdrew himself from consideration the same day.
In a text message sent to reporters, the nominee said he would choose the path to “resign” himself from consideration if the controversy over his nomination “blocks the path to solve an ongoing gridlock.”
“I hope my decision (today) will help the Moon government succeed,” said Cho, dean of the graduate school of labor studies at Korea University, who was under fire for his DUI.
Cho’s withdrawal from consideration is the second such withdrawal for the Moon government. Ahn Kyong-whan, who was tapped to lead the Justice Ministry, dropped his nomination amid snowballing questions over his ethics. It remains to be seen how the three opposition parties will react to Moon’s appointment of Song, a decision they warned would hamper bipartisan spirit, since their demand for Cho’s withdrawal was met on the same day.
BY KANG JIN-KYU [firstname.lastname@example.org]