S.Korean Prez to appoint new JCS chief amid tensions over N.Korea

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol is expected to appoint Army General Kim Seung-kyum as the new head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) early this week, a key presidential official said on Sunday, amid lingering tensions over North Korea’s provocations.

Kim, who was nominated for the top military job on May 25, should take over the position quickly to prevent any leadership vacuum in the armed forces, the official was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.

“We haven’t identified any ground for disqualification,” the official added.

Kim most recently served as the deputy commander of the South Korea-US Combined Forces Command.

The outgoing JCS chief, Air Force Gen. Won In-choul, will step down on Monday.

The planned appointment on Monday comes amid tensions over a series of North Korea’s missile launches and a possible nuclear test.

Kim would be the first the JCS chair to be appointed without a parliamentary confirmation hearing since 2006, when South Korea added a JCS chair to the list of nominees who are subject to confirmation hearings.

Yoon does not require approval from the National Assembly in appointing Kim as his first JCS chair.

In South Korea, the prime minister is the only Cabinet post that requires parliamentary approval.

Last month, Yoon also appointed Kim Chang-ki, a longtime tax official, as the new chief of the National Tax Service.

The two nominees could not undergo confirmation hearings due to a parliamentary deadlock over various issues, including who will chair the parliamentary legislation and judiciary committee.

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