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Unification Minister Resigns

Posted October. 26, 2006 06:58,   


Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok was found to submit his resignation on October 25 after National Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung. He has led the South Korean government’s engagement policy for North Korea.

President Roh accepted their resignation and plans for an overhaul of the government’s foreign affairs and security personnel by next week.

As such drastic change in foreign affairs and security personnel is the first in the current administration, attention is focused on any potential policy changes toward North Korea and the United States.

Lee informed his resignation during lunch with President Roh on October 24, and submitted a formal resignation to Cheong Wa Dae chief-of-staff Lee Byung-wan on October 25.

Lee’s successor is most likely to be former Vice Unification Minister Rhee Bong-jo, while assemblymen Moon Hee-sang and Shin Ki-nam from the Uri Party, and Lee Jae-jung, senior vice president of the National Unification Advisory Council, are also being named.

Lee stated at a press conference that, “With the North Korean nuclear test, our efforts and progress for the peace, security, and reconciliation between the two Koreas were being debated and used for political ends, and I felt that someone more capable than myself should fill my shoes and master the situation.”

A member of Cheong Wa Dae said, “The political debate is great, and it is difficult for Lee to conduct his duties smoothly.”

Lee stated, “As unification minister, I don’t think there was a large mistake in conducting our policy toward the North,” denying views that his resigning is the result of the failure of the engagement policy.

Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Yoon Tae-young stated, “Certain changes are being made with the engagement policy toward the North due to the altered situation brought on by the North Korean nuclear testing, but the primary stance remains constant.”

But certain factions of the government have analyzed Lee’s resign as censure for responding inadequately to North Korea’s nuclear test incident.

It is not certain whether director of the Korean National Intelligence Service Kim Seung-kyu will be replaced, but should it take place his successor may be Defense Minister Yoon, 1st deputy chief of the National Intelligence Service Kim Man-bok, and the Seoul High Court head Lee Jong-baek.

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