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South Korea: No-Confidence Vote on Cabinet - 2001-09-04

The cabinet of South Korean president Kim Dae-jung resigned early Tuesday, one day after parliament voted to dismiss the minister in charge of North Korea policy.

President Kim Dae-jung's entire cabinet offered to step down Tuesday, ahead of a regularly-scheduled cabinet meeting. The move came one day after parliament passed a no-confidence motion against Lim Dong-won, the President's chief architect of North Korea policy.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Lee Hong Dong told South Korea's Yonhap news agency that all members of the cabinet, including the prime minister, decided to step down to let President Kim Dae Jung reconstruct his administration

Monday's vote in the National Assembly dealt a major blow to President Kim and his so-called sunshine policy towards Pyongyang. But after Monday's vote, the President's office said he would not change his policy of trying to engage the North.

Mr. Lim, who is said to be trusted by Communist Pyongyang, has been attacked in Seoul for being too soft on North Korea. He came under harsh criticism for recently allowing more than 300 South Korean civilians to visit North Korea.

Mr. Lim was the principal broker behind last year's inter-Korean summit, the first meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea. It led to a series of exchanges between the two countries and also led to talks between Washington and Pyongyang on reducing North Korea's nuclear threat. However, talks between Pyongyang and Seoul as well as Pyongyang and Washington have stalled since President Bush took office in January.

On Sunday, North Korea offered to end a six month freeze on official talks with South Korea. Some analysts say that was an attempt to encourage legislators to vote in support of Mr. Lim.