The father of wisdomBan Ki-moon, former United Nations General Secretary, criticized President Moon Jae-in’s choices for ambassadors to four global powers. He said the appointments suggest the president could be thinking that “anyone can become diplomats.”
For the envoys to the four key countries — the United States, China, Japan and Russia — the president recruited people who had been on the election campaign team. Nominated U.S. ambassador Cho Yoon-je is an economist and No Young-min, who would represent Seoul in Beijing, is a former legislator. Lee Su-hoon, ambassador to Japan, is a professor mostly devoted to affairs of the Korean Peninsula, while Woo Yoon-keun, the envoy to Russia, is former secretary general of the National Assembly. They are all rookies in diplomatic affairs.
As Ban also pointed out, a real estate mogul can become the leader of a superpower like the United States, but South Korea is a different case. Diplomatic maneuvering skills are essential for a country squeezed geopolitically by global powers in order to defend its security and economic interests.
Moreover, the country is caught in the middle of an exchange of furious war talk between the United States and North Korea over the latter’s nuclear and missile provocations. The foreign front is vulnerable, even in the hands of veteran diplomats.
Any lack of diplomatic sensitivity can lead to foolish mistakes. Noh said South Korean companies were struggling in China not because of economic retaliation but from internal problems. His comment came under fire as it raises questions about which country he represents.
The government is determined to fill 30 percent of the envoy slots with non-career diplomats. The foreign minister as well as the National Security Council chief were also such recruits. If 30 percent of the envoys in the field are seated with non-career diplomats, Korea’s forces on the foreign front cannot be trusted.
It is no wonder the opposition is demanding the government entirely realign its foreign and security front.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 20, Page 34
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