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Park’s defense nominee latest to exit

AFP-JIJI

In a fresh blow to South Korea’s new president, Park Geun Hye, her nominee for defense minister stepped down Friday at a time of elevated military tensions with North Korea.

Ever since his nomination, Kim Byung Kwan, a retired four-star general, has been dogged by allegations of wrongdoing related to his recent stint as a broker for an arms trading firm.

More recently, new allegations surfaced regarding hidden assets linked to stock in a Myanmar natural gas company.

Kim’s resignation is a another blow to President Park, who was sworn in as the country’s first female president on Feb. 25.

She has since struggled to fill key Cabinet posts, partly due to parliamentary deadlock over her proposals for reorganizing the government.

Park’s nominee to head a new and much-hyped science and technology “super ministry” withdrew earlier this month out of frustration with the delays.

And on Thursday a deputy justice minister resigned amid media reports, which he strongly denied, of his alleged involvement in a scandal involving sex parties hosted by a construction contractor.