Army chief Gen. Suh Wook tapped as defense minister: Cheong Wa Dae

SEOUL, President Moon Jae-in has nominated Army Chief of Staff Gen. Suh Wook as new defense minister, Cheong Wa Dae announced Friday.

If appointed after a National Assembly confirmation hearing, Suh would replace Jeong Kyeong-doo. If so, he would become the first defense chief with an Army background under the Moon administration.

Moon’s first defense minister was a retired Navy admiral, Song Young-moo, and Jeong is a former fighter pilot who served as Air Force chief.

Cheong Wa Dae cited Suh’s adequate experience in both field maneuvers and military operation as well as his expertise on the combined operations of South Korea and the United States, which are longtime allies.

On the basis of more than 30 years of experience in the military, Suh is expected to contribute to maintaining a firm defense posture, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok said.

He is also the right figure to make the military strong and trusted by the people by pushing for such core policy tasks as the transfer of wartime operational control from the U.S. and defense reform, Kang added.

Born in Gwangju, 270 kilometers south of Seoul, in 1963, Suh graduated from Korea Military Academy in 1985. He served at the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command from 2011 to 2014. He then served as commanding general of the First Corps and chief director of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

Moon had been widely expected to carry out a Cabinet shake-up this month to affect at least two ministers, having already replaced several of his senior secretaries recently.

The pick of only one new minister nominee, called by media here a “one-point Cabinet reshuffle,” came presumably in consideration of the government’s all-out fight against the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in South Korea.

For instance, the president is unlikely to change his health minister at least until the coronavirus situation is brought under control, observers said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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