Moon focuses on economy in his latest reshuffle

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Moon focuses on economy in his latest reshuffle


From left: Kim Hyun-chong, Kim You-geun, Yoo Myung-hee

President Moon Jae-in reshuffled his trade minister and two deputy chiefs of the Blue House National Security Office on Thursday in what appears be his latest show of resolve to revamp the economy and gear up for economic re-engagement with North Korea.

The change was announced less than an hour before the second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was set to begin in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi. Kim Hyun-chong, Moon’s trade minister, was named the new second deputy chief of the Blue House National Security Office, replacing Nam Gwan-pyo. Kim’s successor in the Trade Ministry will be Yoo Myung-hee, who led the Office of FTA Negotiations within the Trade Ministry.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Kim You-geun, who served as chief director of an office within the Ministry of National Defense in charge of overseeing the relocation of U.S. Forces Korea, was tapped as the new first deputy chief of the Blue House National Security Office.

Kim Hyun-chong, the newly appointed second deputy chief of national security, is known as a seasoned negotiator of free trade deals. In 2004, during the progressive Roh Moo-hyun administration, he led the free trade negotiations between South Korea and the United States while serving as trade minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

During the conservative administrations of Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye, he worked as vice president of the UN Economic and Social Council, president and chief legal officer of Samsung Electronics and a professor of language and trade at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

After Moon was elected president in May 2017, he became trade minister at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy that July. In his 2010 memoir, whose title roughly translates to “Kim Hyun-chong talks about the Korea-U.S. FTA,” Kim recalled suggesting that President Roh sign a free trade agreement with North Korea, to which Roh replied, “That’s catchy. Tell me more.” Kim said he convinced Roh at the time that the idea was definitely plausible.

Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom, in a written statement on Thursday, said Kim Hyun-chong was an “expert in diplomacy and trade.”

At difficult times in trade diplomacy, like the signing of the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, Kim Hyun-chong “defended national interests” with his perseverance and “remarkable” bargaining power, the Blue House spokesman said. On retired Army Lt. Gen. Kim You-geun, the new first deputy chief of the Blue House National Security Office, the Blue House spokesman said that the Blue House looks forward to seeing him successfully lead national defense reform measures and national security policies based on his extensive experience.

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