South Korea

South Korea’s Moon replaces defence chief in cabinet reshuffle

Changes made as Moon’s approval ratings fall to a record low 56 per cent

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 August, 2018, 4:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 August, 2018, 4:01pm

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday replaced his defence chief and four other ministers in a cabinet reshuffle after falling approval ratings in recent weeks.

Moon has driven a rapid diplomatic rapprochement with nuclear-armed North Korea, but defence minister Song Young-moo came under fire for mishandling a controversy over a defence intelligence unit.

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In March, documents emerged detailing military plans to impose martial law against protesters demanding the ousting of Moon’s predecessor Park Geun-hye last year, but Song failed to report them to the presidential Blue House.

Moon named Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman and air force General Jeong Kyeong-doo to replace him.

It is normal for South Korean defence ministers to be former top military officers, Song was previously an admiral.

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Moon’s popularity rating soared to 83 per cent after his Panmunjom summit with the North’s leader Kim Jong-un in April.

It has since fallen to a record low of 56 per cent in a Realmeter survey last week amid mounting concerns over the economy.

Moon also named new ministers for education, industry, labour and gender equality in Thursday’s reshuffle.