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Is Korea Society President Donald Gregg Leaving Office?

Posted August. 19, 2005 03:04,   


Donald Gregg, 78, the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and, current president of the Korea Society (since 1993), which has been playing a leading role in promoting Korean culture in the U.S., expressed his willingness to resign from his current position as president to open the way for the promotion of his juniors.

In regard to this, a source from New York said on Wednesday, “Even though Gregg is handing over his presidency to a new face, as far as I know, he continues his role as a supporter of the Korea Society (TKS) by maintaining his position as chairman of the board of directors.

President Gregg is staying in Seoul now after visiting Pyongyang on Saturday together with CNN founder Ted Turner.

As his successor, a couple of U.S. professional diplomats are mentioned. However, it is reported that the announcement of appointing new president may be delayed due to the procedure for selecting, which will take more time than expected.

However, another source from New York said, “Even though his resignation is firmly decided within the TSK, the possibility of the interim continuation of the ‘Gregg System’ may not be ruled out because many important schedules such as President Roh Moo-hyun visiting the TKS, which is slated for the middle of September, are already set up.”

President Gregg is known as “Bush’s man” due to his experience as national security adviser to Vice President George Bush during the 1980s. He was also one of the Republicans who supported the Sunshine Policy of South Korea’s former President Kim Dae-jung.

President Gregg visited Korea last May to raise funds that were necessary to enhance the TKS’s financial autonomy, which is very meaningful because it took place while he was considering leaving office. At that time, he visited the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) and called for its support by saying, “We are seeking more financial support from Korean companies than American companies,” adding, “We would like you to recognize the importance of initiatives that are taken to raise awareness of the Korean culture among the American people.”

Meanwhile, Charles Kartman, who is stepping down at the end of August from his current position as Executive Director of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), and an anonymous figure that served as U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, are known to be the most likely candidates to become the next president of TKS.

Professional diplomat Charles Kartman has maintained a close relationship with Korea by serving in important positions related to Korea. He served as the U.S. Special Envoy for the Korean Peace Talks, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, and U.S. Political Counselor in Seoul. Since the inauguration of President George W. Bush in 2001, as executive director of KEDO, he has led the light-water reactor project in North Korea.

In regard to this, a source said, “In order to further enhance the status of TKS that was achieved by President Gregg, a significant figure who can influence the mainstream of American society and who is equipped with professional management capability both in finance and organization would be ideal. For this, active financial support is badly needed.”

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com