Kang Chang-il, who has been tapped as South Korea's new ambassador to Japan. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in has picked Kang Chang-il, a former four-term ruling Democratic Party lawmaker, as South Korea's new ambassador to Japan, Cheong Wa Dae announced Monday, expressing expectations for his role in improving relations between the neighboring countries.
Moon's office took note of Kang's expertise in Tokyo-related affairs.
Having earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo, he has long conducted academic research on Japan, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok said. Earlier, he studied Korean history at Seoul National University.
He also used to co-head the South Korea-Japan Parliamentarians' Union.
On the occasion of the launch of Japan's Yoshihide Suga administration, Kang is expected to help produce a breakthrough in efforts to resolve pending bilateral issues and establish forward-looking relations on the basis of his "expertise, experience and high-level networks," the spokesman said in a statement.
Moon's choice of Kang, who has a wide web of personal networks with Japan though he is not a career diplomat, reflects the president's will to normalize Seoul-Tokyo relations in cooperation with the Suga government, according to a Cheong Wa Dae official, who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity.
The two sides have long been in diplomatic standoffs with each other especially over Korean victims of forced labor at Japanese mines, factories and other facilities during World War II.
Kang became a lawmaker in 2004 after working as a professor at Pai Chai University in Daejeon, 160 kilometers south of Seoul.
He is to replace Nam Gwan-pyo as Seoul's top envoy in Tokyo.
Nam assumed the post in May 2019. (Yonhap)