S Korean President names new Prime Minister

S Korean President Lee Myung-bak named a new Prime Minister as part of a Cabinet reshuffle.

Seoul: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak named a former provincial governor as his new prime minister on Sunday as part of a Cabinet reshuffle.

Presidential secretary for public relations Hong Sang-pyo announced that the shake-up also included the ministers of knowledge economy, education and five other departments. It did not affect the ministers of foreign affairs, defense and unification.

Kim Tae-ho, a former governor of South Gyeongnsang province, was nominated to replace Chung Un-chan as prime minister, Hong said. The appointment is subject to parliamentary approval.

The prime minister is the nation`s second-highest official, but is largely a ceremonial position with little decision-making power.

Lee also replaced the ministers of culture, agriculture, health and welfare, employment and labor, and a special minister handling political affairs.

The reshuffle came less than two weeks after Lee`s ruling Grand National Party won parliamentary by-elections which were seen as a referendum on public support for the president.

It also came amid tension with North Korea over large South Korean naval drills off the west coast, including spots near the two countries` disputed sea border.

The exercises, which end Monday, were aimed at strengthening South Korea`s ability to counter any North Korean provocations following the March sinking of a South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors.

North Korea — which has denied involvement in the sinking — warned last week it would "counter the reckless naval firing projected by the group of traitors with strong physical retaliation" and advised civilian ships to stay away from the maritime border.

South Korea`s Joint Chiefs of Staff said no unusual military activity has been detected in the North.

Seoul has said it will launch more military exercises with the United States on Aug. 16 following joint naval drills last month in waters off South Korea`s east coast.

Bureau Report

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