SEOUL (TIP): Kim Jang-soo, the national securityoffice chief for incoming President Park Geun-hye, isexpected to face tough strategic challenges in copingwith North Korea as the belligerent neighbor threatensto stage a nuclear test despite repeated internationalwarnings.Kim, 65, the former defense minister under the RohMoo-hyun administration from 2004 to 2006, wasappointed to the major post in the top office afterleading the foreign policy and defense committee forPark’s transition team after the December election.
He won conservative acclaim after he was shownstanding upright without bowing as he shook handswith then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il during the2007 inter-Korean summit. Since then the hardliner wasdubbed “Gen. Upright.”After stepping down from the defense chief post, Kimentered into politics on the proportional representationticket for the then ruling conservative Grand NationalParty, now known as the Saenuri Party, in the previousparliamentary session.Park, who replaces President Lee Myung-bak on Feb.25, campaigned on mending ties with Pyongyang inreturn for dismantling its nuclear program.
Ahead of awidely expected third nuclear test, however, she hasrepeatedly urged the North to drop the plan and warnedthe test would further isolate the impoverished nation,which is already under heavy international sanctions.Under the Park administration, Kim is expected to takea greater role in overseeing foreign affairs, nationaldefense and inter-Korean affairs, as well as nationalcrisis management, which will be a newly added team tothe presidential office as part of Park’s governmentreorganization plan.
The expanded national security team for the top officewas seen as underlining Park’s commitment to strongnational defense.Born in Gwangju in 1948, Kim graduated from theKorea Military Academy in 1971 and earned a master’sdegree in government administration from Seoul’sYonsei University in 1989. He served as deputycommander of the South Korea-U.S. combined forcescommand and Army chief.