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Ambassador Hong Seok-hyun to Step Down

Posted July. 27, 2005 03:03,   


On July 26, President Roh Moo-hyun decided to accept the resignation of Hong Seok-hyun, the Korean ambassador to the U.S., who expressed his will to resign over the wiretapping scandal of the country’s former spy agency.

Ambassador Hong called Kim Woo-sik, chief of staff of Cheong Wa Dae, at around 10:30 p.m. on July 25 and expressed his will to resign, saying, “I’m sorry for causing concerns over the incident.”

Kim Man-soo, spokesman for Cheong Wa Dae, stated that President Roh Moo-hyun said, “It is regrettable since he smoothly performed his responsibilities as the ambassador to the U.S. at an important time,” after being reported of the news by the chief of staff.

The spokesman said, “The president will accept Hong’s will to step down. But the timing of resignation will be decided, taking into account the period needed to resolve pending issues as ambassador,” explaining that Hong will retain the position of ambassador for the time being to perform his duties such as the monitoring of the six-party talks process over the North Korean nuclear issue.

However, it appears it will be difficult for Hong to fulfill his responsibilities like the other ambassadors, given that his replacement is decided. Considering that a new ambassador should get an agrément (approval) from the government of the hosting country, it is inevitable that an acting ambassador will take the post at least for one month before a successor officially takes the office.

Cheong Wa Dae said, “The identity of the successor will be outlined early next month.”

Prior to Cheong Wa Dae’s decision, Hong did not go to his office and cancelled the regular staff meeting of the embassy on the morning of July 25 (local time), saying, “I don’t feel well.” He also cancelled or delayed all of his schedules for July 25 and 26.

Jung-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com