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(LEAD) Gov't taps new ambassadors for China, Japan, Russia: sources

Diplomacy 18:50 March 04, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS photo; UPDATES with more details from 5th para)

SEOUL, March 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has named new ambassadors to China, Japan and Russia in a recent regular spring reshuffle of senior diplomats, as it seeks to bolster diplomacy for its peace efforts with North Korea, sources said Monday.

The government has tapped Jang Ha-sung, former presidential chief of staff for policy, as new ambassador to China, a post vacant since former Ambassador Noh Young-min became the new presidential chief of staff in January, according to the sources.

Nam Gwan-pyo, former deputy chief of the presidential National Security Office, was named ambassador to Japan. He is set to take over from Ambassador Lee Su-hoon amid tensions with Tokyo over historical and other issues.

Lee Sok-bae, the current consul general in Vladivostok, was named to replace Ambassador to Russia Woo Yoon-keun, who has been embroiled in bribery allegations at home, they said.

This combined photo shows Jang Ha-sung (L), former presidential chief of staff for policy; Nam Gwan-pyo (C), former deputy chief of the presidential National Security Office; and Lee Sok-bae, the current consul general in Vladivostok. (Yonhap)

The three will be officially appointed after their host nations endorse their appointment in a process known as "agrement."

Jang, if appointed, is expected to face the tough tasks of eliciting China's support for South Korea's efforts for denuclearization and lasting peace on the peninsula and enhancing Seoul's national interests amid a Sino-U.S. rivalry.

He is known to have deep knowledge about the Asian power as he previously worked as an exchange professor at China's Renmin University and Fudan University and as an international advisor for the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

Challenges also lie ahead for the new ambassador to Japan. Seoul-Tokyo ties have recently chilled due to the long-simmering issue of Tokyo's wartime sexual slavery and its protest against South Korean court rulings last year against Japanese firms for colonial-era forced labor.

Nam formerly worked at the South Korean Embassy in Tokyo and also handled treaty issues at Seoul's foreign ministry. His experience is expected to be helpful in addressing a set of legal issues between the two neighbors.

Lee, named the ambassador to Russia, is known for his extensive experience and expertise in Russia-related issues. Since entering the foreign ministry as a non-career diplomat in 1991, he has mostly been posted in Russia.

Meanwhile, the government appointed Kim Dong-gi, a minister at the South Korean Embassy in Washington, as new ambassador to UNESCO; Hong Sang-woo, a presidential official, as consul general in Sydney; and Kim Young-sok, a law professor at Ewha Womans University, as consul general in Chicago.


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