Ministers Axed Over Korea Beef

SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea's president replaced three ministers Monday amid the fallout from a much-criticized U.S. beef import deal, but left his Cabinet largely intact despite their offer to resign to stem weeks of anti-government protests.

Lee Myung-bak has been under intense fire over an April agreement to resume imports of U.S. beef.

The shakeup was aimed at "making a new start" while giving other Cabinet members another chance, presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said.

Lee chose new agriculture and welfare ministers Monday because of the mishandling of the beef deal, while the education minister was replaced over alleged financial wrongdoing.

Lee has publicly apologized over the beef issue and replaced top advisers.

The main opposition Democratic Party, which has been supportive of the protests that have been spearheaded by left-wing grass-roots groups, said the Cabinet reshuffle falls short of what the people want.

"It is like pouring cold water on the public expectations," spokeswoman Cha Young said.

The new Cabinet nominees must go through parliamentary confirmation hearings, but it remains unclear when the hearings will occur because the Democratic Party is boycotting the National Assembly over the beef deal. However, the legislature does not have the power to block the president's appointments.