Ex-vice FM to head transition team subcommittee for foreign affairs, security

SEOUL-- Former Vice Foreign Minister Kim Sung-han will lead a foreign affairs and security subcommittee of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's transition team, Yoon's spokesperson said Tuesday.

Kim, a Korea University professor, is a well-known international politics scholar and served as second vice foreign minister in 2012-13. He is a long-time friend of Yoon, as they went to the same elementary school, and is known as a foreign policy mentor for Yoon.

Kim is expected to play a role in bolstering the alliance with the United States, Yoon's spokesperson Kim Eun-hye said.

Two other members of the foreign policy subcommittee are Kim Tae-hyo, who served as presidential secretary on national security strategy between 2008 and 2012, and Lee Jong-sup, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Kim Tae-hyo, a Sungkyunkwan University professor, is expected to draw up North Korea policy based on reciprocity, while Lee is expected to use his expertise in defense strategy and relations with the U.S. to carry out Yoon's election pledges on national security, the spokesperson said.

Former Lt. Gen. Lee, who served as vice chairman of South Korea's top military command between 2017 and 2018, is expected to help the nation's military bolster capabilities to cope with North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

Lee will also play a leading role for Yoon to fulfill his election pledges on security matters, including a normalization of joint military exercises with the U.S., according to the spokesperson.

Yoon is expected to take a hard-line stance on North Korea, similar to approaches under the conservative Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administrations, after taking office in May.

Yoon of the conservative People Power Party won the election at a time when North Korea has shifted back to a provocative mode. Pyongyang has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests in recent months and even hinted at the possibility of firing a long-range rocket.

Yoon has voiced a need to consider a preemptive strike on North Korea in the event of an imminent threat and the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system, called THAAD, to counter the North's growing missile threats.

The transition team is composed of seven subcommittees, including the one for foreign affairs.

Ko San, who was trained as South Korea's first astronaut before being dropped from boarding a Russian space shuttle in 2008, has been chosen to serve on the subcommittee for science, technology and education, a team official said.

Peck Kyong-ran, a professor of medicine at Sungkyunkwan University, has been appointed to serve on the social, welfare and culture subcommittee, and will be responsible for devising a new COVID-19 response mechanism for the incoming government.

Both were recommended by transition team chairman Ahn Cheol-soo and approved by Yoon, an official close to the president-elect said.

In accordance with a related law, the transition committee will have one chairman, one vice chairman and 24 members.

Source: Yonhap News Agency