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South Korean president replaces minister, 6 Cabinet members

SEOUL, South Korea -- President Roh Tae-woo replaced his intelligence chief and six Cabinet members Wednesday in a partial government shakeup aimed at meeting 'popular expectations' on several controversial issues.

Prime Minister Kang Young-hoon, Deputy Premier-Economic Planning Minister Cho soon, Defense Minister Lee Sang-hoon and 14 other cabinet ministers were retained.

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Presidential spokesman Lee Soo-jung said the reshuffle was designed to meet popular expectations with stronger implementation of policies by the government, which has been in power for 1 years now.

'President Roh believes what is most important for the government at this juncture is to wipe out transitional phenomena which marred efforts for democratic progress, solidify a firm national security posture assuring a strong foundation for stability, and establish law and order of a democratic society in all fields,' Lee said.

The president replaced the head of Korea's version of the CIA, as well as ministers for home affairs, health and social affairs, construction, communications, labor and political affairs.

The government reorganization drew mixed reactions from political parties. The ruling party welcomed it but three opposition parties said the prime minister should have been sacked, along with cabinet members in charge of economic affairs.

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'It will freshen the social atmosphere which has been disturbed by a series of secret North Korean visits (by dissidents),' the government party said through a spokesman. 'We hope the government will now carry out its policies without hesitation.'

Dissident pastor Moon Ik-hwan and a companion, dissident coed Im Su-kyong and opposition lawmaker Suh Kyong-won all have made trips to North Korea in violation of a tough national security law.

Political analysts said Roh replaced his intelligence chief and home minister because he held them morally responsible for these developments.

Controversies over labor disputes, a national medical insurance program, and a government plan for two new satellite cities around Seoul caused Roh to fire cabinet members in charge of labor affairs, health and construction, the analysts said.

'This shakeup went against what the people wanted and presents a gloomy political prospect,' the main opposition Party for Peace and Democracy led by Kim Dae Jung said in a statement. 'We had demanded the resignation of the entire Kang cabinet.'

The Reunification Democratic Party of Kim Young-sam said through a spokesman that cabinet members responsible for economic failure should have been replaced.

Under the shakeup:

Former Prosecutor-General Suh Dong-kwon, 57, was appointed head of the Agency for National Security Planning, the Korean version of the Central Intelligence Agency, succeeding Park Seh-jik, a retired two-star Army general.

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Kim Tae-ho, 54, a lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Justice Party, was named home affairs minister, and Kim Chong-in, 49, also a member of the government party, was made health-social affairs minister.

Kwon Yong-gack, 58, a former vice defense minister, was ordered to be construction minister, and Lee Woo-jae, 55, former president of the Korea Telecommunication Authority, became communications minister succeeding Choi Young-chull, 54, who was reassigned as labor minister.

Park Chul-un, 47, a relative and special assistant of Roh, was appointed first minister for political affairs, a post responsible for coordinating relations between the administration and political parties.

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