South Korea appoints first female foreign minister
South Korean President Moon Jae-in ignored strong parliamentary opposition by appointing former United Nations official Kang Kyung-hwa as foreign minister Sunday.
Seen as being in favor of engagement with North Korea following last year's total collapse of ties with Pyongyang, she becomes the country's first female foreign minister at a critical time -- less than two weeks before the first Seoul-Washington presidential summit between Moon and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.
The pair could thrash out key policy points such as how to curb North Korea's nuclear weapon ambitions while still offering dialogue and humanitarian aid to Pyongyang. Another potential point of contention is the appetite for, and cost of, American missile defense on the Korean Peninsula.
Into this fray steps 62-year-old Kang. Seoul's parliament refused to approve her appointment as foreign minister, but Moon's presidential prerogative allowed him to give her the job anyway.
"I hope you would make those who have opposed you realize that they were wrong," Moon was quoted by Yonhap News Agency as telling Kang, whose suspected past misdemeanors include tax evasion and false address registration.
Moon has had a challenging task gaining political support for cabinet picks since he took office last month, particularly because he himself set high standards for his nominees.
Sunday's move risks the possibility of a parliamentary boycott by the conservative Liberty Korea Party, which might slow down further appointments and dampen the prospects for Moon's proposed budget to create jobs.