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Park-science minister

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, March 14 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye nominated a top communications technology expert for science minister, the presidential spokesman said Thursday, after an earlier nominee resigned amid a parliamentary impasse over her government reorganization proposal.

Professor Choi Mun-kee of top science university KAIST was named to head the ministry of future creation and science, presidential spokesman Yoon Chang-jung said. The ministry will be newly established under Park's government reorganization plan.

The nomination came after an earlier nominee, Kim Jeong-hoon, withdrew earlier this month, expressing displeasure over the parliamentary deadlock. The Korean-American tech entrepreneur had also been plagued by questions about whether he was fit for the job after having spent nearly four decades as a U.S. citizen.

Choi's nomination is subject to a confirmation hearing.

Park plans to use the envisioned science ministry as a main government agency responsible for South Korea's economic growth and job creation. She has repeatedly stressed the conversion of broadcasting and communications technology is a future growth engine for the country.

Under the initiative, Park proposed moving the responsibilities for oversight of cable channels, Internet TV and other broadcasting outlets from the watchdog Korea Communications Commission to the science ministry so that IT and broadcasting issues can be handled more efficiently.

But the main opposition Democratic United Part has strongly opposed the idea, claiming the proposed transfer is an attempt to bring broadcasting firms under government control. The issue has been the main sticking point in negotiations over the reorganization bill.

Spokesman Yoon said the presidential office plans to ask the National Assembly for a confirmation hearing for Choi as soon as the government reorganization bill passes through parliament.

Choi, 62, is a top IT expert with decades of experience in communications and Internet technologies. He served as head of the state-run Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute in 2006-2009 after working as the chief of research in high-speech communication and Internet technology at the agency.

Choi also served as deputy chief of the Korean Institute of Communications and Information Science in 2008-2009.

Park also selected four other government agency chiefs, naming Ewha Womans University law professor Han Man-soo as head of the Fair Trade Commission, and promoting Je Jeong-boo, the deputy head of the government legislation ministry, to its chief, the spokesman said.

Retired Army General Park Sung-choon was retained as the head of the ministry of patriots and veterans affairs, and former vice agriculture minister was named as head of the Korea Food and Drug Administration, he said.

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