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Police Chief Resigns Over Farmer Deaths

Posted December. 30, 2005 03:21,   


Huh Joon-young, the head of the National Police Agency, resigned Thursday, giving in to pressure to step down in the wake of the deaths of farmers who participated in the recent protest against the opening of the domestic rice market.

The resignation was delivered to Cheong Wa Dae by Oh Young-gyo, the minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs, and was accepted by the president on the same day.

Huh said in a two-page statement released immediately after the submission of the resignation that “I decided to step down because I didn’t want to impose a burden on the president as a supporter of security as active part of national affairs, especially at a time when there are pressing political issues to be addressed by the end of this year, including passing the proposed budget.”

But he added, “I still stand by my initial position that this is not an issue that justifies the resignation of a head of a national policy agency as a symbol of public power.”

Huh, a diplomat-turned-police officer, took office as the second head of the National Police Agency for a fixed term last January. He has held various other government positions, including security advisor to the president and Seoul Police Chief.

Choi Gi-mun, the first head of the National Police Agency appointed for a fixed term, had stepped down two months before his term ended.

Kim Man-soo, Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson, said in a news conference held before the resignation was accepted “the president made clear in the news conference on Tuesday that the decision to resign should be left to Huh. So if the resignation is submitted, it will be accepted.”

Aides informed the president that Huh submitted the resignation, but he made no particular comment on the issue, the spokesperson said.

As for the appointment of a successor, Kim said that no discussions were underway yet.

Yeon-Wook Jung jyw11@donga.com needjung@donga.com