Korean-American expert on North Korea and former senior fellow at the Brookings Institute Jung Pak, 47, was named Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs on Tuesday (local time). She will be taking charge of North Korea policies at the U.S. State Department.
“I am excited to announce that I’ve joined @StateDept as Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian & Pacific Affairs,” Pak wrote on her Twitter account. “What an honor to be able to serve the American people again in this new capacity and work with the dream team.”
Jung Pak is a North Korea expert, who served as a senior analyst in charge of North Korea at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) from 2009 to 2017. She has been working as a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank Brookings Institution. She joined Joe Biden’s camp last year
The fact that the State Department filled a key post dealing with North Korea less than a week after the Biden administration took off demonstrates that it recognizes the urgency of addressing the North Korea nuclear issue. Pak reportedly went to work at her office at State Department even before announcing the news on her Twitter account. It is the same post previously held by Alex Wong, deputy assistant secretary of state for North Korea and deputy special representative for North Korea.
Jung Pak is deemed to be knowledgeable about the internal situation and nuclear development of the North Korea regime based on accurate intelligence. She has been expressing strong doubts about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s willingness to denuclearize. But in an interview with The Dong-A Ilbo last year, Pak stressed the necessity of dialogue with North Korea, saying the best way is to continue diplomatic efforts. In her last report before leaving Brookings, she harshly criticized the Moon Jae-in administration by saying the administration’s oppression of North Korean defector groups and ban on flying of anti-North leaflets into North Korea undermine democracy. “What is a better way to show democracy to North Korea than to show them the power and resilience of democracy in South Korea?,” said Pak, calling on President Moon Jae-in to change the administration’s approach to human rights and North Korean defector groups. There is a high chance that her viewpoint will affect the Biden administration’s North Korea policy.