Kim Yeon-chul, who was tapped as the new unification minister Friday, has more than 20 years of experience dealing with inter-Korean and unification issues as a policy adviser and scholar.
Currently, Kim serves as the president of the Korea Institute for National Unification, a government-funded think tank, and teaches at the Department of Korea Unification of Inje University.
The Korea Institute for National Unification President Kim Yeon-chul (Yonhap)
Kim is one of seven new ministers nominated by President Moon Jae-in.
If appointed, Kim will lead a ministry facing tough challenges in pushing for inter-Korean projects and exchanges, especially after the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without results in Hanoi, Vietnam, last month.
The ministry has been seeking ways to resume the long-suspended tour program to the North’s Kumgangsan and to reopen a joint industrial complex in the North’s border city of Kaesong in an effort to encourage Pyongyang to more actively denuclearize the country. However, economic sanctions imposed on North Korea have been blocking such initiatives from moving forward.
The 55-year-old nominee has a track record of diplomatic skills, having been involved in several rounds of talks between South and North Korea.
In 2018, he advised the preparatory committee for the inter-Korean summit between President Moon and North Korean leader Kim.
While working as a policy adviser to former Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, Kim participated in the six-party talks and a meeting between Chung and the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2005.
He earned a doctoral degree in political science and diplomacy from Sungkyunkwan University.
By Park Han-na (firstname.lastname@example.org)