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SEOUL, South Korea - In a fresh blow to South Korea's new president, Park Geun-Hye, her nominee for defense minister stepped down Friday, March 22, 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 working as a broker for an arms trading firm.
More recently, new allegations surfaced regarding hidden stock assets in a Myanmar natural gas company.
"As of now, I am resigning as defence minister nominee for the smooth management of state affairs," Kim said in a statement.
"I wish the present security crisis will be successfully overcome and our national defence becomes stronger," Kim said.
Military tensions on the Korean peninsula are at their highest level since 2010, with North Korea -- angered by UN sanctions imposed after its nuclear test last month -- threatening a second Korean War backed by nuclear weapons.
Kim's resignation is a another blow to President Park, who was sworn in as the country's first woman president on February 25.
She has since struggled to fill key cabinet posts, with parliament refusing to even open confirmation hearings for some nominees like Kim because of corruption rumors. - Rappler.com