New Navy chief takes office, vows to build strong force
SEOUL, July 19 (Yonhap) -- Adm. Sim Seung-seob took office as South Korea's new chief of naval operations Thursday, vowing to build a "strong Navy to buttress national security and prosperity."
His inauguration ceremony was held hours after President Moon Jae-in appointed him to the top post at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. He replaced Um Hyun-seong, who had served in the top post of the Navy since 2016.
"Now, the Korean Peninsula is at a great turning point that will lead us into a new era of peace and prosperity," Sim said during his speech at the Gyeryongdae military headquarters, 160 kilometers south of Seoul.
"Even if there was a situational change, the values of national defense and security do not change. ... The military can garner love and trust from citizens by supporting the government's policy with strong power," he added.
His swearing-in came amid a flurry of diplomacy aimed at denuclearizing the North, reducing cross-border tensions and establishing a permanent peace regime on the peninsula.
Mentioning ongoing territorial disputes in East Asia, the new Navy chief stressed the importance of preparations to safeguard "maritime rights."
"Conflicts and competition are intensifying as nations promote their interests at sea amid disputes over islands and maritime boundaries," he said.
"Our Navy must prepare to be able to respond to the country's call at any time to preserve maritime security and rights," he added.
He also pledged to "conscientiously" seek the construction of a strong Navy equipped with maneuver fleets and high-tech arms, based on the fourth industrial revolution, marked by the convergence of cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence.
At the ceremony, Defense Minister Song Young-moo said that the Navy should play a key role in preserving "maritime sovereignty."
"The Navy must be a key player to preserve our maritime sovereignty on the international maritime security stage and boast our national power to the world," he said.
He also used the speech to highlight his push for defense reform aimed at making the military slimmer yet stronger.
"The armed forces have to be reborn as an advanced, democratic military while fostering peace on the peninsula through defense reform," he said.
"(We) will achieve complete innovation by correcting past wrongs and improving institutions to ensure that the military will no longer be swayed by ideology and politics," he added.
Sim is noted for his expertise in joint military operations and maritime maneuvers.
Since being commissioned as an ensign in 1985, he has served in key naval roles, including commanding the ROK 1st Fleet and taking charge of personnel management and intelligence operations. Before taking the Navy chief position, he served as strategic planning head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Source: Yonhap News Agency