South Korean President Moon Jae-in has tapped new chiefs of missions to the United States, Japan and China, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday, the world's most powerful countries that are also considered Seoul's key partners in efforts to rein in North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile technologies.
The president named Cho Yoon-je the country's new ambassador to Washington, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun.
Cho, 64, served as a key adviser on Moon's election camp earlier this year.
Cho, currently working as a visiting professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, earlier served as the head of the South Korean mission in Britain, according to Cheong Wa Dae.
"As the new South Korean ambassador to the United States, the country's most important ally, Cho is expected to greatly contribute to our national interests by successfully serving as a bridge between the two countries on various issues, such as the Korea-US FTA," the spokesman told a press briefing.
This compilation photo shows South Korea's newly designated chiefs of diplomatic missions to the United States, Japan and China. They are (from L) Cho Yoon-je, the designate for the new ambassador to the US; Lee Su-hoon, the nominee for the new ambassador to Japan; and Noh Young-min, the nominee for the new ambassador to China. (Yonhap)
Seoul and Washington are currently moving to modify their bilateral free trade pact, which has been blamed by Washington as a reason for the US' growing trade deficit with South Korea. The Korea-US FTA went into effect in March 2012.
Noh Young-min, a former lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party, has been tapped as the new South Korean ambassador to China.
"As a three-term lawmaker, the nominee is considered the right person for the job with vast political experience, outstanding negotiation skills and high understanding in international relations," the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said of Noh.
"He is expected to help further develop the Korea-China relations by smoothly resolving many complicated issues between the two countries, such as the THAAD deployment," Park added.
Seoul-Beijing relations have been growing sour after South Korea decided to host the US missile defense system, a shield against possible North Korean missile provocations.
President Moon also named the new head of the diplomatic mission to Japan -- Lee Su-hoon, an international relations professor from Kyungnam University.
The 63-year-old served as the head of the foreign relations and security division on Moon's transition team.
The Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said Lee was a foreign relations expert with vast experience and knowledge.
"We believe he will successfully address the intricately tangled history issues between the two Koreas based on his superior experience and insight on the situation in Northeast Asia and contribute to the future-oriented development of the Korea-Japan relations," he said.
The Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said the agreements for the new ambassadors' appointment were filed with their host countries earlier in the day, adding the process may take days or weeks.
South Korea is also expected to name a new ambassador to Russia, one of the four major global powers, along with the three other nations, but Cheong Wa Dae officials said it was taking more time than earlier expected to find and verify the right person for the job. (Yonhap)