According to the grapevine, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke will be confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to China during the week of July 4. He is the first Chinese American to be appointed to such a post.
And he will soon have some company.
According to an inside source speaking to Yonhap News Agency, this week, the White House is expected to announce the nomination of Sung Kim, 51, as the new U.S. ambassador to South Korea. He will replace Ambassador Kathleen Stephens.
Kim would be the first-ever U.S. ambassador to South Korea who is ethnically Korean. Kim and his family immigrated to the United States in the 1970s and acquired citizenship in 1980.
Kim is currently the U.S. special envoy to the six-party talks, aimed at dismantling North Korean’s nuclear program. He has been at this post since July 2008.
A career Foreign Service Officer, Kim headed the Office of Korean Affairs from August 2006 to July 2008. He has served as chief of the political-military affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul in 2003, and also worked as a political officer in Tokyo. Prior to that, he served in Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong.
Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Kim worked as a public prosecutor in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and completed a degree in law from Loyola, as well as a master’s degree from the London School of Economics.
Kim is married and has two daughters.
This is a very special time in our country’s history. It was only decades ago during World War II that the United States interned its own citizens — Japanese Americans — because the prevailing perception was that people of Asian ancestry are fiercely loyal to Asia first, even if some have never set foot on the continent.
Throughout this country’s history, Asian Americans have been perceived as perpetual foreigners who warrant distrust and suspicion.
However, the appointments of Kim and Locke signifies the progress this country and its citizens have made.
A recent issue of the Hankyoreh, a daily newspaper in South Korea, illustrated how Kim displays his loyalty.
Kim has visited North Korea 10 times. During negotiations, he chose to speak English and does not play up his Korean heritage, which he has said is to avoid creating a false impression of himself to North Korea and to avoid using specialized terminology improperly.
We are anxiously looking forward to learning more about Kim. ♦