South Korea appoints ex-general as new defence minister

Saturday, December 4, 2010

SEOUL - South Korea appointed a former four-star general as its new defence minister Saturday, media reports said, amid the highest tensions seen on the peninsula in more than 50 years.

Kim Kwan Jin, who served as head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was given the job following his confirmation hearing Friday — during which he promised firmer a response to attacks from North Korea.

“We do not want war, but we must never be afraid of it,” Kim Kwan Jin, 61, said in his inauguration speech.

“We’re in the worst crisis since the Korean War. Our enemies will keep trying to take advantage of our weaknesses and will plot new provocations. We must make them realise how steep of a price they will have to pay for their provocations on us.

His predecessor Kim Tae Young resigned three days after a North Korean artillery attack on Yeonpyeong, a South Korean island in the Yellow Sea.

Two civilians and two soldiers were killed in the Nov 23 attack which led to criticism that the South’s response had been inadequate.

North and South Korea remain technically at war after the Korean War of 1950-53.

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