Back To Top

Korean-American U.S. envoy stresses special partnership

Sung Kim arrives in Seoul to take up post


Sung Kim, Washington’s newly appointed chief diplomat to Seoul, arrived here to officially take office on Thursday, pledging to make the utmost effort for a stronger bilateral alliance.

Kim, a Korean-American former State Department official, was named the new ambassador to South Korea based on his expertise on North Korea and the peninsula. He was sworn in last week in Washington, becoming the first U.S. ambassador to Seoul of Korean heritage since the two sides established diplomatic ties 129 years ago.

Thanking well-wishers at the airport both in Korean and English, Kim said he was “honored” to be taking the post as the new ambassador and called Seoul-Washington relations “the most precious” and “a special partnership.”

Kim also vowed to further strengthen the military alliance and trade and financial relations between the two countries during his term.

The ambassador said South Korea and the U.S. are increasingly cooperating on issues beyond the Koran Peninsula. “I very much hope to be able to continue that trend,” he said.
Sung Kim (right), the new U.S. ambassador to South Korea, waves to reporters along with his wife and two daughters upon arriving at Incheon International Airport on Thursday. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)
Sung Kim (right), the new U.S. ambassador to South Korea, waves to reporters along with his wife and two daughters upon arriving at Incheon International Airport on Thursday. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)

Kim avoided specific discussions on outstanding issues, such as North Korea, as he has yet to present his credentials to South Korean President Lee Myung-back.

The appointment of the 51-year-old career diplomat is anticipated by observers here to have a positive influence on bilateral ties and ongoing efforts to denuclearize North Korea. Kim will be replacing Kathleen Stephens.

Asked about a flurry of diplomacy to restart the stalled six-nation talks to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs, Kim said, “When you look at the question of the North Korean nuclear problem, the most important part of the solution is the close cooperation and coordination between Washington and Seoul.”

Kim has served as Washington’s special envoy for the multinational talks aimed at North Korea’s denuclearization since 2008. The six-nation talks, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia, have been stalled for more than two years, causing regional concerns over Pyongyang’s ongoing nuclear ambitions.

Dialogue partners have been escalating discussions over when and how to resume the long-suspended negotiations, but lingering tensions between the two Koreas have been serving as a major stumbling block.

Kim, born in 1960 in South Korea, emigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s after his father retired from his post in the government and obtained U.S. citizenship in 1980.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Kim went to Loyola School of Law and served as a state prosecutor before changing his profession to a diplomat.

Since 2003, when he began to work as a first secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Kim attended several rounds of the six-way nuclear disarmament talks and visited Pyongyang more than 10 times as a key North Korean expert in Washington.

By Shin Hae-in (hayney@heraldcorp.com)
MOST POPULAR
LATEST NEWS
padcast
Korea Herald Youtube
subscribe