President Park replaces two ministers, top aide on foreign affairs

South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

President Park Geun-hye on Monday replaced two ministers for transport and maritime affairs along with her senior secretary on foreign affairs, in a small reshuffle that came amid heavy criticism of her foreign affairs' team in a fighter jet technology transfer debacle.

Park named Kim Kyou-hyun, the National Security Council secretariat chief, as new senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security. He replaces Ju Chul-ki, who has reportedly offered to resign taking responsibility for Washington's refusal to transfer fighter tech to Seoul last week. The president also appointed Cho Tae-yong, the vice foreign minister, to head the office of the National Security Council secretariat.

In addition, she conducted a Cabinet shake-up, replacing the ministers for transport and maritime affairs who plan to run in the April general elections. "President Park has conducted a reshuffle to effectively push ahead with her major state agendas and reform drive," said senior presidential press secretary Kim Sung-woo.

The president nominated Kang Ho-in, former head of the Public Procurement Agency, as the new minister of land and transport, and promoted Kim Young-suk, the current vice maritime minister to the top post.

The two nominees will be subjected to the National Assembly hearing, but do not require a parliamentary endorsement.

Park is expected to conduct an additional reshuffle in the near future for other ministers or presidential secretaries who have expressed their intention to contest the general elections.

Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan and Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea are reportedly preparing for the elections, as well as Gender Minister Kim Hee-jung who has already announced her bid for a parliamentary seat despite Park's request to focus on her reform drive.

Several senior-level posts at Cheong Wa Dae have been left vacant since early this month with staff leaving their jobs to win the ruling Saenuri Party's nomination for general elections. Park's spokesman Min Kyung-wook offered to resign two weeks ago along with Park Jong-joon, deputy head of Presidential Security Service.

Park also conducted a massive reshuffle of vice-ministerial positions in six ministries.

Lim sung-nam, incumbent ambassador to United Kingdom, was named first vice foreign minister and Hwang In-moo, former vice chief of staff of the army as new vice defence minister.