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State dinner event nearly canceled owing to lack of response

State dinner event nearly canceled owing to lack of response

Posted March. 29, 2023 08:14,   

Updated March. 29, 2023 08:14


South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s upcoming state visit to the United States next month was nearly derailed due to a delay in the response from the diplomatic and security team at the presidential office to a proposed special cultural program by the Biden administration. According to sources, President Yoon had to rectify the situation after belatedly getting informed of it through alternative channels instead of the presidential office. This, coupled with other missteps by the diplomatic team, has led to discussions within the presidential office about a possible reshuffle of key officials, including National Security Office Chief Kim Seong-han.

According to a senior official in the South Korean ruling party, the Korean Embassy in the U.S. sent five or more messages to the presidential office containing requests from the White House, but the lack of a response from Seoul reportedly jeopardized the prolonged efforts for Yoon’s state visit to the United States. It is believed that President Yoon learned of the situation through alternative diplomatic channels. The American side reportedly proposed a cultural event to be held with President Biden and his wife during President Yoon’s visit to the U.S., but the necessary reporting was not completed in a timely manner, disappointing President Yoon.

A recent report suggested that there have been discussions about replacing National Security Office Chief Kim, but a senior official from the presidential office denied those claims during a meeting with reporters. Whether it will affect Yoon’s visit schedule, however, the official said the process of making diplomacy and sausage is better left not disclosed. While Mr. Kim was scheduled to give a lecture at a discussion session on “Sustainable Peace” at the meeting of overseas mission chiefs earlier on the day, he canceled the lecture and attended a Cabinet meeting presided over by President Yoon instead.

However, there is speculation that the possible reshuffle of ministers, such as Foreign Minister Park Jin and Unification Minister Kwon Young-se, could lead to a wider overhaul of the country’s diplomatic and security personnel. The reshuffling of the presidential office and Cabinet members might overlap while President Yoon is seeking to solidify his political power. According to a high-ranking official of the presidential office, as President Yoon approaches his first year in office, there is a growing possibility that he may undertake a sequential restructuring of personnel starting with his diplomatic and security staff.

Kwan-Seok Jang jks@donga.com · Na-Ri Shin journari@donga.com