President Lee Myung-bak on Thursday accepted the resignation of Defense Minister Kim Tae-young. Cheong Wa Dae says Kim tendered his resignation, but he was apparently sacked for a series of failures by the military in recent months and a blunder in the National Assembly on Wednesday quoting Lee as allegedly ordering the military to avoid escalation after North Korea's attack on Yeonpyeong Island.
"In the afternoon today, President Lee decided to accept Defense Minister Kim Tae-young's resignation," Presidential chief of staff Yim Tae-hee told reporters. "Kim offered to resign on May 1 following the Cheonan incident, but the president delayed the decision due to a host of pending issues, including follow-up measures to the sinking and defense ministerial talks with the U.S."
Yim said Kim's resignation was accepted with the aim of reforming the military. Lee apparently spoke with Prime Minister Kim Hwang-shik about a replacement for Kim and plans to announce it on Friday. The minister has been instructed to watch over the handover and ensure that there is no vacuum created by his resignation, Cheong Wa Dae said.
Kim Byoung-gi, the presidential secretary for defense affairs, will be replaced as well.
But a ruling-party official said, "The president was very angry about Minister Kim's comments at the National Assembly on Wednesday, saying his first instruction included an order to avoid escalation. Kim is being held to account for causing an uproar by misquoting the president when he wasn't even present at the command center."