SEOUL, Nov 26, 2010 (AFP) - South Korea named a presidential security aide and former career soldier as its new defence minister on Friday after the previous minister quit over North Korea's deadly artillery bombardment.
Lee Hee-Won takes over from Kim Tae-Young, who resigned Thursday amid strong criticism that the military had reacted feebly to Tuesday's attack.
|AFP files - This file photo taken on November 7, 2005 shows US General Leon J. LaPorte (R), then-commander of the United States Forces Korea, and his South Korean counterpart Lee Hee-Won (L) inspecting an honour guard during a ceremony marking the 27th anniversary of the Combined Forces Command at US military headquarters at Yongsan in Seoul. AFP|
The shelling, the first to hit civilian areas in the South since the 1950-53 war, killed four people on a border island and set homes ablaze. South Korea fired 80 shells at the North from the island in response.
Lee, 61, is a former four-star general who became deputy chief of the US-South Korea Joint Forces Command in 2005.
He retired from the military in 2006 and was appointed presidential security aide in May, after the sinking of a South Korean warship.
The South accuses the North of torpedoing the ship, a charge it denies. The incident fuelled cross-border tensions, which became acute after the artillery barrage.
Both the government and the military have been widely accused by the media and legislators of a weak response to the bombardment.
Seoul has said it will send more troops and guns to border islands and change the rules of engagement to let the military hit back harder in the event of another North Korean attack.