South Korea's Moon Appoints First Female Foreign Minister

Kang Kyung Wha on June 7.

Source: Kyodo News via Getty Images

South Korean President Moon Jae-in appointed former United Nations policy adviser Kang Kyung-wha as foreign minister on Sunday, the first female chief in the ministry’s 70-year history.

Kang’s appointment had been delayed because opposition parties declined to approve her after a parliamentary hearing on June 7. The centrist People’s Party held a press briefing on Sunday, and said Kang doesn’t have the capacity to handle the mounting diplomatic and security issues on the Korean peninsula. 

While parliamentary approval in South Korea is a formality, not a requirement, presidents prefer to gain lawmakers’ consensus as it helps the administration push through key agendas. Moon pushed ahead with the appointment of Kim Sang-jo as chairman of the Fair Trade Commission on June 13, with a spokesman saying the government couldn’t wait for parliament’s endorsement.

One of Kang’s first tasks will be to prepare for a bilateral summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Moon later this month, the South Korean president’s first summit since taking office on May 9.

(Updates with information on Korea-U.S. summit in fourth paragraph.)
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