SEOUL, Sept. 11 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in attended a rare ceremony outside Cheong Wa Dae to appoint Jeong Eun-kyeong, South Korea's disease control czar, as head of a new agency to operate autonomously with more authority and workforce.
Jeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), has been tapped to lead the upgraded state body, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), which will be launched Saturday to replace the KCDC.
Moon made a visit to the KCDC headquarters in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, some 130 kilometers south of Seoul, to present her with a certificate of appointment in person.
The move apparently reflects the public recognition of her dedicated service in the country's fight against COVID-19 and expectation for her role in the promoted position.
In South Korea, the prime minister usually bestows a letter of appointment on a vice ministerial official. It is also highly unusual for the president to hold such an appointment ceremony outside Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul.
Moon did not want to call in the "field commander" in the national fight against the virus, a Cheong Wa Dae official said on the condition of anonymity.
For more than half a year, Jeong has been steering the nation's on-site anti-coronavirus efforts.