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Amb. Hill to take post dealing with N. Korea's Nuke Issue
Hill Appointed as State Dept. Assistant Secretary
Top US Envoy to Seoul Will Succeed Jame A. Kelly

US Ambassador to Seoul Christopher Hill at work

Current U.S. Amb. Christopher Hill to Seoul has been appointed as assistant secretary of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, the White House announced on March 4, 2005.

Hill will officially succeed James A. Kelly for the post after Senate' confirmation hearings. Mr. Kelly resigned from the post in January this year.

Kelly was nominated as the assistant secretary by President Bush April 3, 2001, confirmed by the U.S. Senate April 26, 2001, and sworn in May 1, 2001.

Hill has been serving as U.S. ambassador to Seoul since August, 2004. He also has been the U.S. representative for the six-party talks in dealing with North Korean nuclear issues since February this year.

US Amb. Christopher Hill
Prior to his South Korean mission, Hill was the U.S. ambassador to Poland. Diplomatic sources said that U.S. State Secretary Condoleeza Rice picked Hill after she was brooding about whom to choose for the position between Hill and Michael Green, advisor to U.S. President for Asia. For his new mission Hill will be finishing the top U.S. envoy's job in Seoul, which he took only six month ago.

Amb. Hill's replacement has not been known yet but sources said that John Thomas (Tom) Schieffer, the U.S. ambassador to Australia, would most likely succeed Hill for the diplomatic position in Seoul.

A native Texan, Amb. Schieffer is co-owner of the Texas Rangers Baseball Club with President George W. Bush. He is a brother of prominent CBS anchorman Bob Schieffer.

Amb. Hill has been quite active in his job as the top U.S. diplomat in Seoul, earning both respect and confidence from local people as well as Korean politicians and foreign diplomats.

The U.S. ambassador has probably been the most active diplomat Seoul has ever seen. He has shown his presence at numerous international gatherings as well as diplomatic functions, and frequently appeared on local current affairs programs. He stressed that the North Korean nuclear issue should be dealt with through six-party talks.

U.S. Amb. Christopher Hill (left) shakes hands with South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Mun at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade building in Seoul August 16, 2004. Hill was paying a courtesy call to Minister Ban soon after his appointment as the new U.S. envoy to Seoul.

In his efforts to interact with local people and smooth out anti-U.S. tensions in South Korea, the 52-year-old career diplomat tried to talk directly with young South Korean internet users — many of whom are anti-American and pro-North Korean — by opening an internet community site "Cafe USA" (

He braved a visit to Gwangju City in South Jeolla Province becoming the first U.S. ambassador to Seoul to pay homage to the ones who were killed during the 1980 Gwangju massacre.

During the uprising, thousands of Gwangju citizens rose up in in favor of democracy and protested against the then military dictatorship of Chun Doo-Hwan. Hundreds of people were brutally murdered by heavily armed South Korean troops, which were under U.S. control.

US Amb. Christopher Hill lectures on "South Korea-US Relations for Peace and Development in Northeast Asia" at Chosun Hotel in Seoul Feb. 22, 2005. The lecture was organized by alumni association of the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

Still to this day some South Koreans blame the U.S. for "allowing the South Korean army to use its troops to kill civilians," or at least for "not doing anything about the massacre."

Under U.S.-South Korean military agreements, South Korean troops cannot be mobilized without prior consent from United States Forces Korea command central.

Soon after his arrival to Seoul, Hill started playing golf "to learn about Korea." Many Korean leaders, business professionals, and politicians use playing golf to socialize. Recently the U.S. Embassy in Seoul offered an English language program to local people who are interested in learning the language.

Even in spite of his already tight schedule he allegedly started learning Korean language.

Profile: Amb. Christopher Robert Hill

Christopher Robert Hill was born and raised in Little Compton, Rhode Island in 1952 until he went to Brunswick, Maine for his college education.

U.S. Amb. Christopher Hill shakes hands with South Korean Defense Minister Yoon Gwang-Woong at the South Korea's Defense Ministry building in Seoul Sept. 3, 2004.

Mr. Hill graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1974 with a B.A. (bachelor of arts degree) in economics. He completed his M.A. (master of art) degree at the Naval War College in l994.

Fresh out of college in 1974, Hill volunteered to serve as a Peace Corps member in Cameroon for two years. After his tenure with the Peace Corps, he joined the State Department in 1977.

As a senior member of the U.S. foreign service, Hill spent the better part of his career mainly in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. As a multi-linguist, he is capable of speaking fluent Polish and Serbo-Croatian, and some Macedonian and limited Albanian. Hill was the U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia from 1996 to 1999.

U.S. Amb. Hill met with Korea University students and lectured on "Free Trade Agreement" at the university campus on Nov. 1, 2004. He is busier than any other foreign ambassador in Seoul with a number of meetings and lectures with local people.

At the urging of then President Bill Clinton, Hill served as special envoy for the Kosovo crisis and played a role as a U.S. negotiator for the Bosnian Peace Accord.

Hill received both the Robert S. Frasure Award for Peace Negotiations and the State Department's Distinguished Service Award for his achievement in the Bosnian peace negotiations. He earned his nickname "Balkan troubleshooter" while he was solving the knotty problems In Kosovo.

After his missions in Kosovo, he served as the senior director for Southeast European Affairs with the White House's National Security Council (NSC).

Hill also served as the senior country officer for Polish Affairs in the Department of State before President Bill Clinton appointed him as ambassador to Poland on Feb. 9, 2000.

Amb. Hill playing basketball

U.S. Ambassador to Poland Christopher Hill (far left) plays in the "all star" basketball game sponsored by Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest circulation newspaper, on Feb. 12, 2003. As U.S. ambassador to Warsaw he was quite successful in persuading the Polish government to send its troops to Iraq in the face of strong objections from Poles.

Speaking in response to President George W. Bush's order to disarm Iraq, Amb. Hill was quoted as saying later that America had no other alternative.

"We tried everything we could to avoid this conflict. We used every institution possible," Hill said. "Ultimately the problem was that we had a dictator who not only has used weapons of mass destruction on his own people, on his own neighbors, but who has continued to refuse to get rid of those weapons of mass destruction. So ultimately we came to the end of the road."

Amb. Hill stressed that the U.S. is very appreciative of everything Poland has done throughout the crisis. He noted that this has not been an easy time for Poles.

"Many Polish people have a direct experience with wars, and they recognize what a dangerous thing it is, added Hill. "So, we are very appreciative of what the Polish leadership has done to support us in this venture."

Amb. Hill and his wife Mrs. Hill visit Polish film school Lodz.

He was awarded the prestigious Gordon S. Hargraves '19 Preservation of Freedom Prize while he was serving as U.S. ambassador in Warsaw for his outstanding achievement in the Kosovo crisis.

Hill's hobbies include sports activities. His favorite sport is tennis, which he remembers playing atop a building in the middle of winter while he was working as an economic officer nearly two decades ago in Seoul.

He is also known to be a big fan of Korean baseball player Kim Byung-Hun of the Boston Red Sox. He regularly enjoys skiing during the winter seasons.

As an avid reader, Hill favors history books. His recent reading list includes "The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History" by Don Oberdorfer.

U.S. Ambassador to Poland Christopher Hill (right), plays in the "all star" basketball game sponsored by Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest circulation newspaper, on Feb. 12, 2003.

Mr. Hill has one son and two daughters with his wife Patricia. His son now lives in Washington DC after college. His older daughter, who attends college in Boston, has many Korean friends. His younger daughter is a high school student who was born in Seoul in 1987.

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