Envoy to China becomes Moon’s top aide

President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with new presidential chief of staff Noh Young-min in an event at Cheong Wa Dae when Noh was named as South Korea's ambassador to China, October 2017 in this file photo, Tuesday. Yonhap

SEOUL, Jan 8, 2019, Korea Times. President Moon Jae-in named South Korean Ambassador to China Noh Young-min as the presidential chief of staff, but left National Security Office (NSO) head Chung Eui-yong in place as negotiations are underway on the site for a second summit between the United States and North Korea, reported The Korea Times.

“Moon named South Korean Ambassador to China Noh Young-min as the new presidential chief of staff and Yoon Do-han as the new chief presidential press secretary,” outgoing presidential chief of staff Im Jong-seok said in a news conference at Cheong Wa Dae, Tuesday.

Noh officially took over the role from Im early Wednesday morning.

The President also named Kang Gi-jung as the replacement for Han Byung-do as the presidential secretary for political affairs, Im told reporters, adding the incoming senior presidential secretaries will participate in the President’s New Year press conference planned for Jan. 10.

Noh is the first South Korean ambassador to China under the Moon administration. He is known to be one of the closest aides to the President, playing a significant role in Moon’s campaign team for the May 2017 presidential election. Noh previously served as the President’s chief of staff when Moon ran for president back in 2012, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

Moon’s new chief press secretary Yoon is a seasoned broadcast journalist who has taken senior positions at MBC, one of the country’s top three terrestrial TV broadcasters.

But the President left his top national security team led by the NSO head Chung and the National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director Suh Hoon, unchanged in a move to push forward with a greater stability and continuity of his ongoing drive to bring a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, Cheong Wa Dae officials said.

Tuesday’s changes came after the President is facing challenges represented by a steady decrease of his approval rating hit by tepid growth in employment and growing controversy over allegations that Cheong Wa Dae surveilled civilians or even created a “blacklist” of people who are critical of the government.

“Cheong Wa Dae hopes the shakeup provides a fresh impetus to move forward with new policy agendas focusing on economic affairs,” a senior Cheong Wa Dae official said. The new chief of staff Noh was the head of a trade and industry council at the National Assembly before going to China on the ambassador role.

As the second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the U.S. President Donald Trump is “very near at hand,” the President’s national security team will continue to perform its role toward national security.

The North’s Kim is now in China for a fourth summit meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The North’s Kim and Trump are negotiating over the confirmed location for their second in-person meeting.

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