South Korea's Yoon Names Hawkish Academic As Unification Minister

Kim Yung-ho, a political science professor at Sungshin Women's University answers questions from the media in Seoul on June 29, 2023. Photo by YONHAP / AFP

Seoul, South Korea -- South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Thursday named a conservative academic with a hawkish stance on North Korea to head Seoul's new unification ministry, which handles relations with Pyongyang.

Kim Yung-ho, a political science professor at Sungshin Women's University, has been a vocal critic of North Korea's human rights abuses and has argued the issue must be raised "head-on in leader Kim Jong Un's face".

In its announcement of the appointment, the presidential office described Kim as "the right person to promote a principled North Korea policy and a consistent unification strategy".

Kim, 63, has shared his hawkish views on global politics and North Korea on his YouTube channel with over 240,000 subscribers, which he closed Thursday citing personal reasons.

He previously served as the presidential secretary for unification and a human rights envoy under the conservative Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administrations.

The two Koreas held three summits under Yoon's dovish predecessor Moon Jae-in, but Pyongyang largely cut off contact following the collapse of a 2019 summit between Kim Jong Un and then-US president Donald Trump.

The conservative Yoon, who took office last year, has pledged a tougher approach towards the nuclear-armed North.

Ministerial nominees are subject to parliamentary hearings, although a formal approval is not required.

© Agence France-Presse

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