SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye on Friday retained Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, shortly after a nominee for defense minister resigned over a series of alleged ethical lapses.
Park made the decision considering the urgent security situation following North Korea's repeated war threats, presidential spokeswoman Kim Haing said in a press briefing.
In the current security crisis, Park believes the safety of the country and the people is in such a delicate state that there is no longer time for any more political disputes or parliamentary confirmation hearings for a new nominee, Kim said.
"By retaining Defense Minister Kim, who has been recognized for his clear security perspectives and leadership, President Park wanted to stabilize the security crisis and relieve the public's anxiety," she said.
Kim, who served as defense minister under former President Lee Myung-bak, received a letter of appointment from Park in a ceremony at Cheong Wa Dae, along with new finance minister Hyun Oh-seok, Nam Jae-joon, new director of the National Intelligence Service, and Shin Je-yoon, new chief of the watchdog Financial Services Commission.
The retention of the defense minister came shortly after Park's defense minister nominee Kim Byung-kwan offered to resign under pressure over a series of alleged ethical lapses, including his link to a local arms broker accused of influence peddling in a controversial project to import faulty German tank parts for the Korean Army. He also faced allegations of bribe taking, tax evasion and speculative real estate investment.
"As the defense minister nominee, I apologize for causing trouble to the people," he 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," he added.
Park has been under fire for her personnel selections amid a string of resignations by Cabinet nominees and senior officials who faced allegations of various ethical and other lapses.
On Thursday, the new vice justice minister quit after local media implicated him in a sex bribery scandal.
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