defense minister nominee-resignation

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- Defense minister nominee Kim Byung-kwan on Friday offered to resign after coming under fire for a series of ethical lapses, including a link with a local arms broker, real estate speculation and stock asset disclosure.

"As the defense minister nominee, I apologize for causing trouble to the people," Kim said in a brief statement. "I am stepping down from the defense minister nominee post to help normalize government affairs.

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

Although Kim had refused to step down despite opposition pressure in past weeks, his latest decision came after new allegations surfaced over his hidden stock assets in a Myanmar natural gas company.

The retired four-star Army general was named to the post by President Park Geun-hye on Feb. 13 and underwent a tough confirmation hearing on March 8.

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