South Korea's Cabinet Nominees Drop Out in Blow to Moon

(Bloomberg) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in retracted his nomination for science minister, following a series of high-level resignations that are complicating a cabinet reshuffle and distracting from his efforts to revive nuclear negotiations with North Korea.

Moon’s decision to withdraw the appointment of Cho Dong Ho to oversee science and communications policies was based on “a comprehensive review,” Moon’s spokesman Yoon Do-han said in a briefing Sunday.

Cho came under fire during a parliamentary hearing on his nomination for giving luxury cars to his sons in college and attending an academic forum organized by OMICS Group, according to Yonhap News. The company was charged in 2016 by the Federal Trade Commission for deceiving researchers.

Moon is about to enter the third year of his single five-year term and launched a major reshuffle of his government with the nomination of seven top cabinet members as he tries to revive his flagging popularity. Moon’s approval rating hit a record low of 43 percent this week, according to Gallup Korea.

Moon’s nominee to lead the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport offered to withdraw from consideration earlier Sunday. Choi Jeong Ho attracted public ire during his confirmation hearing when it emerged he had multiple investments in prime real estate, a thorny issue for South Koreans because the ministry was responsible for curbing soaring home prices and real estate speculation.

The announcements come two days after journalist-turned-presidential spokesman Kim Eui-keum resigned after the disclosure that he also had real estate investments.

The South Korean president is due to meet President Donald Trump next month in a bid to get North Korean nuclear talks back on track after the second summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un collapsed in February without any agreement on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.

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