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(Yonhap Interview) Psy-loving Nuland hopes for closer Korea-US-Japan ties

All News 08:00 November 12, 2012

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 (Yonhap) -- The spirit of Psy's "Gangnam Style" has spilled over into the U.S. State Department, a mecca for international diplomacy.

Victoria Nuland, the face and voice of the department, is a newfound fan of the Style.

"It's fantastic," Nuland said about the global hit song and music video by Korean rapper Psy. "I can completely understand why it has caught fire all over the world."

"The spirit is great. We all love the 'Gangnam Style,'" she added, showing a "perfect" horse-riding dance she learned by watching YouTube clip "for weeks and weeks."

In an interview with Yonhap News Agency at her office in Washington, Nuland also talked about the Seoul-Washington alliance, North Korea and other serious diplomatic issues as she does every day behind a lectern.

Nuland's teenage daughter was the first in the family to go crazy about Korean music and dance, dubbed K-pop, and now even her husband, Bob Kagan, a Washington Post columnist, likes "Gangnam Style."

Nuland's love of the Korean song relates in part to her belief that diplomacy is "about people."

Taking dozens of questions in front of television cameras every day on what's happening around the world, Nuland is said to have maintained her calm and control relatively well. Of course, it may mean she has skirted tough questions, to the disappointment of reporters.

"I've particularly enjoyed the fact that I get to think about and talk about all of the world's policies that we are trying to pursue," said Nuland, in the job since the summer of 2011. She also gives credit to the "fantastic press team throughout the building" and at U.S. embassies worldwide.

Nuland, a career diplomat, worked as top U.S. envoy to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from 2005 until 2008. She also crossed over some ideological divides, working as senior foreign policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Nuland has won praise for professionalism that transcends politics.

Meeting with a South Korean news outlet outside the press briefing room, Nuland did not forget to mention her Korean-American colleagues.

"Some of our best diplomats are Korean Americans. We are really proud of them," she said. "I am not gonna name names because I will leave somebody out and then I will be in trouble. I am proud of the work that they do and the bridge they build."

Shifting to diplomatic issues, she adopted a bit more formal tone, similar to her press briefings.

She said the U.S. is looking forward to working closely with South Korea's new president, whoever is elected in December.

"Also, it's gonna be important to have continued strong Japan-Korea relations and Japan-Korea-U.S. relations," she said.

The final months of the first Obama administration have suffered a setback in the push to strengthen tripartite cooperation amid renewed territorial and history disputes between Tokyo and Seoul.

On China's once-in-a-decade power change, Nuland reiterated her department's stance to work "cooperatively" with Beijing on regional and global security, "particularly trying to encourage the new leader in the DPRK (North Korea) to change course."

Nuland emphasized the Kim Jong-un regime has a clear choice between a path towards better relations with the U.S. and continued isolation.

On the future of her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Nuland strongly indicated that she will quit soon.

Clinton has openly expressed her intention of leaving the department after the first term of the Obama administration.

"She would like to have a chance to step back, think a little, read, rest, and decide what she wants to do in the next chapter of her life," Nuland said. "it will be sad and difficult for us."

Clinton has contributed to Washington's connections with people worldwide and "humanized American diplomacy" with her "special gifts" such as warmth and an open mind, said Nuland.

Nuland, a political appointee, was guarded about her own future.

If she is assigned to a new post, she will definitely need some time before taking office to enjoy K-pop with her daughter without care for a press briefing the next day.



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