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Ambassadors of the Four Powers in Seoul Will All Be Changed

Ambassadors of the Four Powers in Seoul Will All Be Changed

Posted July. 05, 2005 02:28,   


In the latter half of this year, Seoul’s diplomatic community will likely be fussing with packing and unpacking.

Starting with the new Russian Ambassador to Korea Gleb A. Ivashentsov presenting his credentials to President Roh Moo-hyun on July 1, it is expected that the American, Japanese, and Chinese ambassadors to Korea will all be replaced by the end of this year. The ambassadors of the four powers in Seoul will all have new faces in six months.

Japanese Ambassador-appointee Shotaro Oshima, who is presently the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador in charge of inspection, requested an agrément from the Korean government in late May.

When Ambassador-appointee Shotaro’s agrément procedure was still unfinished after a month, there was talk from people close to the Korean government speculating, “Isn’t it reflecting discontent with the past history and Dokdo issue?”

Nevertheless, a government official explained on July 4, “It is baseless. All prior procedures are virtually finished and soon the Japanese government will declare it an official appointment.”

There are reports that U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow has been appointed as the ambassador to Korea, but the request for an agrément is being delayed, raising curiosity. The U.S. ambassador to Korea post has been vacant for three months since former Ambassador Christopher Hill was chosen as the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

In addition, with reports that Ning Fukui, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador in charge of Korean Peninsula Affairs, will be the next Chinese Ambassador to Seoul, the chronic “ambassador level” controversy between Korea and China has reemerged.

Until now the Chinese government had sent vice minister level officials to North Korea and Japan while sending deputy director-general level officials, two or three levels lower than vice minister level, to Korea, earning discontent from the Korean side.

Hyong-gwon Pu bookum90@donga.com