Diplomacy risingWe welcome President Moon Jae-in’s swift appointments Sunday of top diplomatic and security officials. We take special note of his decision to pick Kang Kyung-wha, a senior policy advisor for former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as minister for foreign affairs. Kang, a woman diplomat with no record of passing the state-administered Foreign Service Examination, was chosen to reflect the liberal president’s effort to reinvent the bureaucratic culture in the ministry and promote gender equality in officialdom. We hope Kang passes a confirmation hearing by the National Assembly and reforms the sclerotic bureaucracy at the ministry.
What also attracts our attention is the president’s appointment of Chung Eui-yong, former South Korean ambassador to Geneva, as head of the National Security Office (NSO). His choice for the position, which has traditionally been taken by high-ranking military officials, shows the new administration’s determination to tackle our security challenges through diplomatic means. Announcing the new appointments, Moon said he valued the role of diplomacy in resolving our security crisis with the North Korean nuclear threat. It is more desirable for the government to address the nuclear issue through peaceful means than resorting to military means.
We also welcome Moon’s appointments of Hong Seok-hyun, chairman of the Korean Peninsula Forum and former ambassador to Washington, and Moon Chung-in, former professor emeritus at Yonsei University, as special advisors for unification, diplomacy and security affairs. Moon can take advantage of their strong backgrounds and their connections around the world.
What concerns us is foreign affairs minister-nominee Kang’s lack of experience in bilateral diplomacy after being a senior policy advisor at the United Nations. The dearth of experience in handling Seoul-Beijing or Seoul-Tokyo relations could possibly lead to a bigger say for the NSO chief and special advisors in making decisions. Moon and diplomatic authorities are sailing into big international events, including a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump next month and the G-20 Summit in Germany in July. Our diplomats must do their best to help Kang deal with the challenges facing the nation abroad.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 22, Page 34