Choi Jong-kun, the new first vice foreign minister, said in his inaugural address Tuesday that the foreign ministry should shoulder "unlimited" responsibility to ensure people's safety.
Last week, President Moon Jae-in named Choi, former secretary for peace planning at the presidential national security office, to the post in charge of the country's bilateral ties with other nations.
"When it comes to nationals' safety, the foreign ministry should shoulder unlimited responsibility," Choi said.
"At a time when non-conventional security issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, threaten people's daily lives, we are facing demand for practical diplomacy and diplomacy for the people," he noted.
Choi will face daunting tasks of finding ways to resolve complicated bilateral issues with the United States and Japan.
Defense cost-sharing negotiations between Seoul and Washington have been deadlocked for months amid US demands for a significant hike in South Korea's contribution to the cost of stationing 28,500 American troops here.
Seoul-Tokyo ties have been at one of their lowest ebbs since Japan's toughening of export restrictions against South Korea in July last year in apparent retaliation over Seoul's attitude on the issue of compensating Korean victims of Japan's wartime forced labor. (Yonhap)