Review of replacement of the Minister of Defense… Likely successor Shin Won-sik

It has been reported that President Yoon Seok-yeol is considering reforming the national defense and security line, including replacing Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-seop. It is said that the appointment was designed to strengthen ROK-US security cooperation capabilities while also strengthening political response capabilities taking into account accumulated internal confusion within the military.

A high-ranking ruling party official said in a phone call with the Dong-A Ilbo on the 4th, “Replacing the Minister of National Defense is being considered to renew the defense security line and strengthen ROK-US security cooperation capabilities.” It has been reported that multiple candidates are being considered for the successor as Minister of National Defense, with People Power Party lawmaker Shin Won-sik (pictured), the ruling party’s secretary on the National Defense Committee of the National Assembly, being considered as a strong candidate. Rep. Shin, a member of the 37th class of the Korea Military Academy, held various important positions, including deputy chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. An official from the ruling party said, “Multiple people are on the list of candidates for verification, but the president’s trust in Rep. Shin is deep.” The timing of the replacement is flexible, but it is said that a nomination card before Chuseok is also being discussed.

It is also known that President Yoon will replace National Security Office Second Deputy Director Lim Jong-deuk and National Defense Secretary Lim Ki-hoon. It has been reported that former Joint Military Command General In Seong-hwan (43rd Army Reserve Army Major General) has been nominated as the successor to the second vice-general, and Choi Byeong-ok, director of defense policy at the Ministry of National Defense, has been nominated as the successor to the defense secretary. An official from the Presidential Office said, “As the two people have responded to security issues for over a year, I understand that a plan to replace them in accordance with regular personnel appointments is being considered.” It has been reported that a promotion review is in progress for Secretary Lim, and that Deputy Director Lim will also be appointed to an additional public position.

While the replacement of the Minister of National Defense is being considered, some are pointing out that the fact that the defense line of the President’s Office is also being replaced at the same time may be related to the chaos revealed by the Ministry of National Defense in response to the death of Corporal Chae of the Marine Corps in the line of duty. However, a high-ranking government official said, “From the time of the decision to replace Director of National Security Office Kim Seong-han (in March of this year), the decision was made to replace him in the fall.” “No,” he explained.

President Yoon Seok-yeol’s consideration of replacing Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-seop appears to be a multi-purpose move to strengthen the military command system and discipline and strengthen the security response capabilities of South Korea and the United States in a severe security situation such as the advancement of North Korea’s nuclear force. There is also an interpretation that this is an intention to strengthen the capacity to respond to political affairs amid accumulated confusion within the military, including a series of controversies within the President’s Office and outside the military over its inability to respond to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and corruption in military supply. The explanation is that it is not a one-time response, but a comprehensive plan to reorganize the security line to strengthen national defense capabilities.

● Consideration of replacing the Minister of Defense due to continued confusion in the military
In addition, there is a view that the recent incident of Corporal Chae of the Marine Corps has also contributed to the inexperience of the defense authorities and staff as a factor in increasing the need to replace the minister. According to the revised Military Court Act, general courts are supposed to have jurisdiction in cases where soldiers, etc. are dead or have died, but there are criticisms from inside and outside the military that the staff increased the controversy with their immature response. A military source said, “Colonel Park Jeong-hoon’s ‘rebellion incident’ has irreparably damaged the military’s command authority, and there is considerable concern that it will lead to a burden on the regime as the issue progresses.” He added, “Recently, the possibility of a replacement for Minister Lee has been flowing within the military. “He said.

However, a government official said on the 4th that the reason for considering the replacement of National Security Office 2nd Deputy Director Lim Jong-deuk and National Defense Secretary Lim Ki-hoon was “because a thorough handover of the defense and security area was necessary that could not allow for even an inch of loopholes.” “It is in accordance with a comprehensive plan that has been prepared,” he explained. The replacement of the two strongly refuted some observations that the lack of handling of Corporal Chae’s case may have been the cause안전놀이터 of the replacement.

A high-ranking official from the President’s Office also met with reporters that day and spoke about the replacement of Deputy Director Lim and Secretary Lim, saying, “As the two people are former military or active-duty soldiers, a comprehensive handover process (in conjunction with the military personnel plan) must be completed at least six months in advance.” He said, “It is a comprehensive plan that was prepared and planned long before recent incidents, including the issue of Corporal Chae.” A key government official also said, “From the time when then-National Security Office Director Kim Seong-han stepped down in March, there was a policy in place to appoint the second deputy director of the National Security Office and the secretary of defense starting this fall.” “The procedure has progressed,” he explained.

● The Minister of Defense may be replaced starting from Chuseok.
So far, President Yoon has dismissed the theory of reorganization, saying, “There is no reorganization to change the situation,” but the view inside and outside the ruling party is that with the general election clock ticking quickly, it is difficult to postpone the reorganization of the Cabinet and Presidential Office. Accordingly, there are predictions that the cabinet reshuffle and plans to reform the President’s Office will be complicated starting from the Chuseok holiday.

Since the Minister of Unification and the Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy were previously replaced at one point, there are also observations that the card to replace the Minister of National Defense may be brought out first again. However, there remains the possibility of a cabinet reshuffle in several ministries, including the Ministry of Environment, so it is difficult to quickly determine the timing of the cabinet reshuffle. An official from the Presidential Office also said, “President Yoon is not the type to reshuffle the cabinet due to the situation.”

Ahead of his general election run, it is known that a search for successors to some members of the President’s Office is being carefully conducted behind the scenes. At the senior level, it is known that Senior Secretary for Public Relations Kim Eun-hye and Senior Secretary for Civil Society Kang Seung-gyu will run for the general election next year. Among the former prosecutors’ secretaries, legal secretary Joo Jin-woo is being mentioned as a strong candidate for candidacy. The possibility of the remaining prosecutors running for office appears to be fading. At the secretary level, Kang Myeong-gu, Secretary for State Affairs Planning, and Seo Seung-woo, Secretary for Autonomous Administration, are mentioned. In the case of administrators who have the halo of the President’s Office and must clean up their constituencies, they can move faster than chief ministers or secretaries.

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