President Moon Jae-in on Friday named Park Jie-won, former lawmaker of the Party for People’s Livelihoods, as the head of NIS, the National Intelligence Service, and Suh Hoon as the director of Cheong Wa Dae’s NSO, the National Security Office. As part of the reshuffle, Rep. Lee In-young of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea has been named as Unification Minister and former presidential Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok and outgoing NSO chief Chung Eui-yong have been appointed as special envoy for diplomatic and security affairs. Amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, President Moon has reaffirmed his commitment to advance inter-Korean relations during his remaining term by appointing iconic figures familiar with North Korean affairs.
During a briefing on Friday, presidential spokesperson Kang Min-seok said President Moon’s appointment of Park Jie-won was based on his contribution to the 2000 inter-Korean summit and his role as an adviser to the Moon administration regarding North Korean issues. Park served as the chief presidential secretary and Culture, Sports and Tourism minister during the President Kim Dae-jung administration. Park was a member of the Democratic Party of Korea before joining the People’s Party in 2016. “President Moon suggested Park for the post in recognition of his expertise in North Korean affairs and experience of meeting former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il,” said a Cheong Wa Dae official.
Suh Hoon, President Moon’s key security aide, will leave his position as NIA chief and be in charge of diplomatic and security affairs at Cheong Wa Dae. He was involved in working-level negotiations with North Korea, meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un twice as a special envoy. The top two security positions in the country have been assumed by those who are familiar with North Korean affairs.
Lee In-young, who was the first president of Association of National University Student Representatives, will lead the Ministry of Unification.
President Moon, who has called for the U.S. and North Korea to have a summit before the U.S. presidential election in November, has expressed his willingness to dedicate his remaining term to improving inter-Korean relations through the recent reshuffle.
The opposition United Future Party, however, criticized the reshuffle on Friday, calling the appointments nepotism and added Cheong Wa Dae did not consider the nominees’ ability to overcome the crisis or acknowledged its policy failure.
Sang-Jun Han firstname.lastname@example.org