SEOUL » A retired army general who is a defense strategy specialist will lead South Korea’s new national crisis management office charged with addressing North Korean provocations, the government said Friday.
The new office was created in the wake of North Korea’s artillery attack on a front-line island near the Koreas’ disputed western sea border.
The newly named chief Ahn Kwang-chan once served as head of the Defense Ministry’s policy bureau, was deputy chief of military strategy at the Joint Chiefs of Staff and has worked in the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, President Lee Myung-bak’s office said in announcing the appointment.
Four South Koreans, including two civilians, were killed in the Nov. 23 shelling of Yeonpyeong island, which North Korea carried out after warning Seoul against conducting live-fire drills there. The attack was the first on a civilian area since the 1950-53 Korean War.
The government also has strengthened security and deployed additional troops and weaponry to Yeonpyeong, which lies just seven miles (11 kilometers) from North Korean shores.
North Korea does not recognize the maritime border drawn by the U.N. in 1953, and it claims the waters around the island as its own. The Korean peninsula remains technically in a state of war because the conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
On Friday, Lee also named two nominees for the Culture Ministry and the Knowledge Economy Ministry as part of a partial Cabinet reshuffle. The two nominees do not need parliamentary approval, though they are required to undergo confirmation hearings.
Lee also appointed nine new presidential aides, five officials to government commissions and a new state inspector.