South Korea's Moon appoints top ministers and chief security adviser

Moon stresses the need to improve conditions for ordinary people, with his government needing to put more life into a sluggish economic recovery.

South Korea's Moon Jae-in sworn in
Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in takes an oath during his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, May 10, 2017. Reuters

Moon Jae-in, the new South Korean President, appointed top ministers and chief security adviser for his new government on Sunday amid new challenges of nurturing economic recovery, soothing ties with China and dealing with North Korea.

In a press conference, Moon said briefing that he had nominated former vice finance minister Kim Dong-yeon as deputy prime minister and finance minister. A United Nations senior adviser on policy Kang Kyung-wha has been tapped as the next foreign minister.

"Our new government has begun work amid unprecedented low growth, economic polarisation and economic hardships for the working class," Moon said.

Moon stressed the need to improve conditions for ordinary people, with his government needing to put more life into a sluggish economic recovery, especially after the graft scandal that brought down his predecessor.

Kim, the president's pick for the finance portfolio, is known for his attention to detail and humble personal background. Two finance ministry officials told Reuters his appointment would be well received in the ministry.

The new administration also faces diplomatic challenges, soothing ties with China, the biggest buyer of South Korean goods, after they became strained by the deployment of U.S. THAAD anti-missile system amid increased tensions over North Korea's missile and nuclear threats.

President Moon said Kang, the woman chosen to be foreign minister, has an extensive career in the ministry and at the United Nations. He added that her appointment gave "great meaning" to gender equality among his cabinet.

Moon's nominees for ministerial posts have to attend a parliamentary hearing before they can officially take up their posts.

Chung Eui-yong, a top foreign policy adviser during the presidential election campaign, was named as the president's national security adviser. Last week, Chung met with U.S. President Donald Trump's security advisers to discuss an upcoming summit and North Korea's nuclear issues.

Earlier, Chung said that although the alliance of U.S. and South Korea is crucial. The process to deploy U.S. anti-missile system THAAD should be reviewed under Moon's government.

THAAD has been deployed in South Korea since April and its presence has already spurred diplomatic rifts with China and the United States.

Moon referred to Chung as the right man and said: "I believe one of the most important aspects the country's security adviser should have is a firm mind on security and diplomatic abilities when we face diplomatic and economic issues tied together, including North Korea's nuclear programme, THAAD and free trade agreements."

The president has said that if conditions are right he can meet North Korea's current leader Kim Jong Un. Moon's special envoy to Washington Hong Seok-hyun, a former ambassador to the United States, was also named as a special presidential aide on diplomacy and security.