One of South Korea’s top generals who is also a defence policy expert was nominated as its new army chief, the Defence Ministry said on Wednesday, a day after the army chief of staff resigned.

General Kim Sang Ki — commander of the Third Army, which is responsible for defending Seoul and the western section of the Demilitarized Zone on the border with North Korea — was chosen to head up the army at a time of escalating tensions after a deadly North Korean artillery attack on a Southern island last month.

“General Kim was nominated by Defence Minister Kim Kwan Jin based on several considerations, including his expertise in defence policy and achievements as a field commander in the army,” Kim Min Seok, a ministry spokesman, told reporters.

His nomination was expected to be voted upon at a cabinet meeting on Thursday, the Yonhap News Agency said.

The change was expected after General Hwang Eui Don resigned following criticism 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.

Kim Sang Ki, 58, served as deputy defence minister last year before being named in September 2009 as head of the Third Army, the largest and most diversified section of South Korea’s army and the one responsible for securing the most likely attack routes from North Korea to the capital.

His nomination came as the military is on high alert after the November 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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