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Ex-consul general to LA expected to head agency for overseas Koreans

By Choi Si-young

Published : May 23, 2023 - 16:12

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President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during an event at the presidential office in Seoul on Tuesday. (Joint Press Corps) President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during an event at the presidential office in Seoul on Tuesday. (Joint Press Corps)

A former South Korean ambassador for representing the interests of 7.5 million overseas Koreans is the top candidate to lead a new agency to be set up early next month for exclusively overseeing such roles, according to reports quoting senior officials at the presidential office Tuesday.

Lee Ki-cheol, the ambassador, served as Seoul’s chief envoy to the Netherlands and consul general in Los Angeles after leaving the post. He is currently secretary-general of UNICEF Korea.

The move to establish an independent government body to deal with “diasporic Koreans” was prompted by calls to streamline services from visas to taxes and pensions. They refer to Korean nationals who have acquired permanent residency in a foreign country, those who once held Korean nationality or people who are lineal descendants of someone who once held Korean nationality.

President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office in May last year, promised to provide seamless assistance via an exclusive agency, which will be staffed by 151 personnel. The chief will enjoy the same privileges offered to vice ministers and answer to the foreign minister.