S Korean president tightens grip with reshuffle

S Korean president tightens grip with reshuffle

President Park Geun-hye replaced seven ministers on Friday, completing several weeks of personnel shake-ups to salvage public trust in the government and move on from the ferry disaster.

Park appointed Rep. Choi Kyoung-hwan, a political heavyweight and one of her closest aides, as deputy prime minister in charge of economics.

Choi replaces Hyun Oh-seok, the first finance minister under the Park government, who came under fire for making a series of inappropriate remarks and mishandling contentious economic issues.

The president also named Kim Myung-soo, a professor at Korea National University of Education, the new education minister, who will serve as second deputy premier in charge of social affairs.

Last month, Park said she would name a new education minister to handle broad social issues including education, culture and safety to better deal with national crises in the wake of the Sewol disaster.

The April 16 ferry sinking left more than 300 people dead or missing, most of whom were high school students on a school excursion to Jejudo Island.

Park also named Chong Jong-sup, a professor of law at Seoul National University, the new public administration minister; Choi Yang-hee, a computer engineering professor at Seoul National University, the minister of science, ICT and future planning; and Chung Sung-keun, president of Arirang TV, the minister of culture, tourism and sports.

For the new labour and gender equality ministers, Park picked former vice labour minister Lee Ki-kweon and Saenuri lawmaker Kim Hee-jeong.

Meanwhile, the president said she will retain Maritime Minister Lee Joo-young, despite his repeated offer to step down from his post to take responsibility for the government's poor response to the ferry disaster.

Lee will keep his job because the president believes that naming a new maritime minister is "undesirable for the families of the Sewol victims" as the disaster is not resolved yet.

The major reshuffle of her Cabinet members completed a series of personnel shake-ups of the nation's top officials that began with the nomination of a new prime minister last month.

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