South Korea’s army chief resigns amid tensions with North

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SEOUL - The head of South Korea’s army resigned Tuesday over a property investment as tensions on the Korean Peninsula were high after a deadly North Korean artillery attack on a South Korean island last month.

Hwang Eui Don, 56, had held the post of army chief of staff for six months before submitting a request to President Lee Myung Bak for an early retirement. Lee accepted it, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

Hwang had been criticised for a substantial profit he made on a property investment in Seoul after allegedly receiving information beforehand from officials that building regulations would be loosened, South Korean media said.

Hwang denied the allegations, but a defence ministry official cited by Yonhap said, “General Hwang offered to retire following media reports about his property investment because he judged it was inappropriate for him to stay on the post at a time when he has to lead the reform of the army.”

He resigned as the military is on high alert after the Nov 23 artillery attack on Yeonpyeong island near the two Koreas’ disputed maritime border in the Yellow Sea. Four South Koreans were killed.

Then-defence minister Kim Tae Young resigned two days later amid criticism that South Korea’s reaction to the attack was too slow and too lax. Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Kim Kwan Jin replaced him.

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