Thursday, January 15, 2004

SK: foreign minister quits

South Korea's foreign minister quit because he questioned whether or not President Roh Moo Hyun's more "independent" position towards the US was prudent:

South Korea's foreign minister resigned Thursday in the wake of a mounting scandal involving members of his staff who have sharply criticized President Roh Moo Hyun's more independent approach toward U.S. relations.

Roh's office confirmed that the president had accepted Yoon Young Kwan's resignation.

"The president did take his resignation, and the reason was confusion over the foreign policy of Roh Moo Hyun's participatory government," said Jeong Chan Yong, senior secretary to the president for personnel affairs.

[...]

Although South Korea has traditionally been a close ally of Washington, Roh came to power last year promising to adopt policies that reflected greater independence from the United States.

In recent days, a scandal has erupted here over sharp criticism of Roh's policies by officials in pro-U.S. factions in the Foreign Ministry.

According to a letter sent to the president's office from a whistle-blower, some critical Foreign Ministry officials have chided Roh and his aides, both in official and unofficial meetings, over what they view as the government's attempts to put too much distance between Washington and Seoul. One staff member apparently likened Roh's supporters to pro-North Korean activists.


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