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Full biography
Sung Kim to Become US Ambassador to Korea
Korean-American Envoy to Replace Kathleen Stephens
Sung Kim (Kim Sung-Yong)

Sung Kim, U.S. envoy to the six-party nuclear talks, is likely to become the next US ambassador to South Korea, local media reported on June 3, 2011.

Kim will succeed the current US Ambassador to Seoul Kathleen Stephens, according to the source.

South Korea’s largest circulation daily Chosun Ilbo and other media confirmed that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently recommended Kim to the White House for the job.

The daily reported that “most of the verification procedures have been completed."

It said that the Washington government already asked South Korean government for granting its agrément to Sung Kim’s appointment.

The 51-year-old career U.S. Foreign Service officer would be the first ethnic Korean to be appointed to the US ambassadorial position.

Kim followed his father to immigrate to the US and become US citizen in 1980.

If Kim passes through the US Senate confirmations he will be the first US ambassador to South Korea since the two nations set up diplomatic establishment in 1882.

Kim will be the 21st US ambassador to Seoul since its first envoy John J. Mucho who came to Seoul in April, 1949 soon after the establishment of the Republic of Korea.

Kim is expected to arrive in Seoul as the US ambassador around August, 2011 as soon as all the procedures including the US Senate’s confirmation are completed.

Sung Kim became the special envoy for the six-party nuclear talks in July 2008 and was accorded the rank of ambassador following confirmation by the United States Senate.

He was also the first Korean-American who was promoted to the ambassadorial position in the US Foreign Service.

Kim headed the US State Department’s Office of Korean Affairs from August 2006 to July 2008.

Diplomatic sources in Washington DC said that Sung Kim is deemed as the best candidate for the next US ambassador to South Korea for his ability and background.

They said that Kim would play a role of bridge between South Korean and the US.

Who Is Sung Kim?

The prosecutor-turned career diplomatic Sung Kim is the highly capable and a successful foreign-service officer within the US State Department.

Sung Kim was born in 1960. His Korean name is Kim Sung-Yong (김성용). He lived in Seoul until he was a middle school junior.

His father, Kim Jae-Kwon, worked at the Korean Embassy in Tokyo until in mid-1970s when Kim’s family immigrated to the US. Kim's father, who was a Korean CIA man, was serving as the minister at the embassy.

Kim received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and completed a degree in law from Loyola.

He earned his master’s degree from the London School of Economics.

He was appointed as the Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks in July 2008 — an ambassadorial position. He became the first Korean-American to be accorded the rank of ambassador following confirmation by the United States Senate.

A career foreign service officer, Kim ran the US State Department’s Office of Korean Affairs as its head from August 2006 to July 2008.

Previously he was chief of political-military affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. He had also other Asian assignments.

Kim served as a political officer in Tokyo and worked in Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong.

In Washington DC, he worked in the Office of Chinese Affairs and served as staff assistant in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs.

Before joining the Foreign Service, Kim worked as a public prosecutor in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.

Kim headed the Office of Korean Affairs from August 2006 to July 2008.

It was when he was appointed to head the Office of Korean Affairs in 2006 that he came to be well-known to the Korean media and its people. He ran the office until July, 2008.

Kim rose to his prominence as the expert for North Korea’s nuclear issue. He attended a series of nuclear talks as a member of US Six Party Talks representatives. Kim visited North Korea more than 10 times.

Kim was trusted widely by highly-ranking officials with the White House and the State Department as the key man for the US government’s North Korean issue.

He became special envoy for the six-party talks, replacing Christopher Hill, on July 31, 2008. He was promoted to the ambassador through the Senate confirmation hearing.

Within President Barack Obama’s administration Kim played a leading role in the US government’s policy on North Korea along with Stephen Bosworth, the US special envoy on North Korea.

Kim’s fluency in Korean language and familiarity in its culture have been instrumental in the US government’s negotiations with North Koreans, according to the diplomatic sources in Washington DC.

Kim is received by the circle of Washington politics as the figure symbolizing the alliance between the US and South Korea.

He is highly trusted for both his ability and confidence by President Obama.

Kim is married to his wife, a graduate of Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul, and they have two daughters.

They live in Virginia near Washington DC.






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