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S. Korea's defence minister nominee resigns

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

In a fresh blow to South Korea's new president, Park Geun-Hye, her nominee for defence minister stepped down Friday at a time of elevated military tensions with North Korea.

Ever since his nomination, Kim Byung-Kwan, a retired four-star general, has been dogged by allegations of wrongdoing related to his recent stint working as a broker for an arms trading firm.

More recently, new allegations surfaced regarding hidden stock assets in a Myanmar natural gas company.

"As of now, I am resigning as defence minister nominee for the smooth management of state affairs," Kim said in a statement.

"I wish the present security crisis will be successfully overcome and our national defence becomes stronger," Kim said.

Military tensions on the Korean peninsula are at their highest level since 2010, with North Korea -- angered by UN sanctions imposed after its nuclear test last month -- threatening a second Korean War backed by nuclear weapons.

Kim's resignation is a another blow to President Park, who was sworn in as the country's first woman president on February 25.

She has since struggled to fill key cabinet posts, partly due to parliamentary deadlock over her proposals for a governmental reorganisation.

Park's nominee to take charge of a new and much-hyped science and technology "super ministry" withdrew earlier this month out of frustration with the delays.

And on Thursday a deputy justice minister resigned amid media reports, which he strongly denied, of his alleged involvement in a scandal involving sex parties hosted by a construction contractor.

Moon Hee-Sang, acting head of the main opposition Democratic United Party, said Park's cabinet woes were the "anticipated result" of her autocratic style of personnel management and her refusal to take advice on nominees.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130322/s-koreas-defence-minister-nominee-resigns