South Korea's hard-line president tapped a hawkish security expert to head the ministry in charge of relations with Pyongyang, a move bound to ratchet up already heightened tensions with the communist regime.
Hyun In-taek, a UCLA-educated professor who helped shape Lee's campaign platform in 2007, was nominated to head the Unification Ministry as part of a Cabinet reshuffle.
The international diplomacy expert is known to be critical of the reconciliatory "Sunshine Policy" espoused by Seoul's previous liberal leadership, noting that pouring aid into the North unconditionally did not stop the regime from testing a nuclear bomb in 2006.
He helped develop the president's position of standing firm with the nuclear-armed North in demanding reciprocity — a stance that has earned Lee the slur "human scum" and "traitor" in state-run North Korean media.
On Monday, the North's main Rodong Sinmun newspaper reiterated the military's warning that it will respond to any South Korean aggression with "one strike" capable of annihilation.