Yoon to send team to U.S. to discuss alliance next month
Yoon's delegation will be led by Rep. Park Jin, a fourth-term lawmaker of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP). The delegation will be comprised of around five experts specializing in Korea-U.S. relations.
The members will be finalized this week and will visit Washington "at an early date," according to Kim Eun-hye, Yoon's spokesperson, to hold "comprehensive and substantive consultations on key pending issues with the U.S. side."
Yoon's delegation, she said in a press briefing, will meet with key figures and policymakers in the Joe Biden administration, Congress and think tanks "to discuss broadly the South Korea-U.S. alliance, North Korea issues, East Asian and global matters and economic security issues."
The visit comes ahead of the launch of Yoon's new administration on May 10.
Kim said, "Through this visit, we plan to lay the groundwork for close cooperation between the two countries under watertight coordination as soon as the new government is launched."
The meeting could prove to be an opportunity to coordinate on North Korea policy, especially as it follows Pyongyang's intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch last Thursday. The latest launch is seen as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's abandonment of a self-imposed moratorium on ICBM tests since late 2017.
Rep. Park is known for his expertise in parliamentary diplomacy and is a senior member of the National Assembly's Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee. He has maintained close relations with U.S. Congress, previously serving as chairman of the Korea-America Association. Park, then chair of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, met with U.S. President Joe Biden, who was then a Delaware senator, in a visit to Washington in 2008.
Park received his bachelor's degree from Seoul National University's College of Law, a master of public administration degree at Harvard Kennedy School and a doctorate degree in politics from Oxford University.
There is interest if the delegation will convey a personal letter from the president-elect, or whether there will be discussion about a first summit between Yoon and Biden.
Yoon's transition team has also been setting domestic agenda, having received a series of policy briefings from key government ministries last week.
On Saturday, Yoon held a presidential transition committee workshop at the Seoul Startup Hub in Mapo District, western Seoul.
Yoon highlighted "pragmatism and people's interests" as key tasks for his government when deciding on state agendas Saturday.
He also stressed that economy is very important, and that the incoming government has the responsibility to "further advance and modernize our industrial structure."
The workshop was attended by some 200 members of Yoon's transition team including its chairman, Ahn Cheol-soo.
Yoon said, "When it comes to the wrongdoings of the current government, we need to determine why this happened, and we also need to select the things that the current administration has done well and carry them on to the next government for the benefit of the people."
The workshop was held to let the transition members exchange opinions on government philosophy, vision and core agenda before preparing for each division's state affairs.
Each division must submit a report of state tasks to the planning and coordination subcommittee by Wednesday.
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]