President Moon Jae-in appointed Suh Choo-suk, former vice defense minister, as the No. 2 official at Cheong Wa Dae's national security office Friday in a reshuffle of his secretaries.
Suh replaces Kim You-geun, deputy director of national security, and he will double as chief of the secretariat of the National Security Council (NSC).
Suh served as vice defense minister from 2017-2019, when he led a national defense reform drive. He worked as senior presidential secretary for unification and security issues under the Roh Moo-hyun administration in the 2000s.
Suh was a member of the 2017 presidential election camp of Moon along with Suh Hoon, director of national security. Majoring in diplomacy at Seoul National University, he was also a researcher at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.
Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok stressed that Suh is an "expert" privy to both the theory and practical affairs of the diplomatic and security field.
"He's expected to fulfill his duties such as establishing security strategies, coordinating pending issues and successfully completing defense reform," Kang added.
Kim, a retired three-star Army general, is on a shortlist, reported by some media, of possible candidates to become new defense minister.
The president also named Yeo Han-koo, a senior official at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, as secretary for New Southern and New Northern policies.
Ha Dong-soo, who is in charge of housing policy at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, was named secretary for land, infrastructure and transport as the government strives to curb soaring housing prices in Seoul and nearby cities.
Many agree that several weeks of decline in the approval rating for the president are largely attributable to the public displeasure with the government's property policy, with apartment prices continuing to rise especially in the capital area.
Do Jae-hyung, professor at Ewha Womans University's school of law, was tapped as secretary for employment and labor.
Moon picked Yoo Geun-heag, head of the population policy office at the Ministry of Health and Welfare Secretary, as secretary for social policy.
Some of the outgoing secretaries, meanwhile, are known as multiple-house owners amid speculation that their departure might be linked with Cheong Wa Dae's guideline on property ownership.
Cheong Wa Dae earlier "strongly advised" its officials with the rank of secretary or higher positions to sell any additional homes they own and to keep just one in a bid to demonstrate the government's resolve to stabilize the housing market.
The liberal Moon administration has placed a focus on sharply increasing the burden on those with two houses or more.
As Moon is in desperate search of a breakthrough in efforts to give a fresh boost to his presidency scheduled to end in less than two years, a shake-up of senior presidential secretaries is expected as early as next week. Also, there's a possibility of a Cabinet reshuffle in the near future. (Yonhap)