S.Korean president revamps cabinet after ferry tragedy

Posted at 06/13/2014 12:48 PM | Updated as of 06/13/2014 12:48 PM

SEOUL - South Korean President Park Geun-Hye revamped her cabinet Friday, replacing seven ministers in response to intense criticism over her administration's handling of April's ferry disaster.

It was Park's first major cabinet shake-up since taking office in February last year as South Korea's first female president.

The most high-profile change will see Choi Kyoung-Hwan, a ruling party lawmaker, replacing Hyun Oh-Seok as finance minister in charge of the economy, the presidential Blue House said.

Park also named six other new ministers responsible for security, education, labour, culture, gender equality and science.

Chong Jong-Sup, a Seoul National University law professor, was named to head the ministry of security and public administration, which will take the lead in implementing promised reforms following the Sewol disaster, which claimed nearly 300 lives, mostly schoolchildren.

The tragedy stunned South Korea, knocking the entire country off its stride and unleashing a wave of public anger, as it emerged that incompetence, corruption and greed had all contributed to the scale of the disaster.

Park's administration was sharply criticised over its response, prompting her to dismantle the coastguard and order a major overhaul of national safety standards and procedures.

Earlier this week, Park nominated a new prime minister to replace Chung Hong-Won, who was forced to resign over the Sewol tragedy.

The president also named a new director of the domestic spy agency, the National Intelligence Service.

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