Yu Woo-ik, the former presidential chief of staff and ambassador to China, was appointed as the new unification minister on Monday. He succeeds Hyun In-taek, whom the ruling and opposition parties wanted replaced to bring a change to Seoul's North Korea policy. But Hyun becomes a special presidential advisor for unification policy.
President Lee Myung-bak also made Choe Kwang-sik, the head of the Cultural Heritage Administration, the new culture minister; Rim Che-min from the Prime Minister's Office health and welfare minister; and Grand National Party lawmaker Kim Kum-lae gender equality and family minister.
Minister for Special Affairs Lee Jae-oh resigned, but the post will remain vacant for the time being.
Senior presidential spokesman Kim Du-woo said, "We expect Yu to implement constructive unification policies while maintaining policies initiated by his predecessor."
Even GNP Chairman Hong Joon-pyo had openly demanded Hyun's replacement, saying Seoul needs to change its North Korea policy. "There will be good news about inter-Korean relations around November," he said Sunday.
As Seoul's point man in Beijing, Yu had sought an inter-Korean summit.