U.S. ambassador receives promotion

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U.S. ambassador receives promotion

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Kathleen Stephens, the U.S. Ambassador to Korea, was named a career minister. By Park Jong-keun

U.S. Ambassador to Korea Kathleen Stephens was appointed as a career minister, the top-ranking position in the diplomatic community given to only a small number of U.S. diplomats, a diplomatic source said early this month.

According to the source, “Ambassador Stephens was informed of her promotion to career minister from the head office of the State Department in Washington, D.C., on Oct.1.”

The position is the second-highest diplomatic post in the U.S., he said, and is akin to that of lieutenant general in the U.S. Army.

“The only higher position is career ambassador, which is equivalent to that of general. Only three diplomats have been raised up to this post,” the source said.

As a career minister, Stephens can continue in her ambassador post or transfer to a high-ranking position in the State Department.

At this point, it is unclear whether she will choose to stay on or move up.

“Her promotion is confirmation from the U.S. government for her sincere dialogue with Koreans and active engagement in public diplomacy as ambassador, bringing relations between the two countries closer while heightening U.S. interests,” the source said.

Stephens became the U.S. Ambassador to Korea in August 2008 and her term continues for 26 months.

The State Department confers diplomatic positions and ranks separately. The high-ranking positions, in ascending order, are: counselor, minister, career minister and ambassador minister.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Korea hung up a large banner to commemorate Hangul Day on Oct.9.

“Hangul Day is one of my favorite Korean holidays,” Stephens wrote in her blog that day. “Last year our Embassy at Gwanghwamun hung a banner to mark the day. We had such a positive reaction to the banner that we decided to hang a new banner this year.”

The ambassador also praised the Korean alphabet, saying, “The script is logical, phonetic, and also very beautiful and artistic.”

Stephens also hosted an English sijo (Korean poetry) contest on June 14, inviting 24 Korean high school students to her residence.

“I hope writing sijo in English catches on in the United States, too,” she said. “It will provide a window into Korean culture.”


By Kang Chan-ho [enational@joongang.co.kr]
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