Ahn Ho-young has been appointed by President Park Geun-hye to be the new Republic of Korea’s (ROK) Ambassador to the United States. Ahn, a 56-year-old former deputy minister of foreign affairs, has held high-ranking positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1978, many of which were related to trade and economic issues. He served as a counselor for the South Korean delegation to the OECD in 1996, counselor for the South Korean permanent mission to the WTO from 1998 to 2002, and director for the International Trade Law Division at office of the Minister for Trade from 2002 to 2003.
Ahn also held a top post at the Economic Cooperation Bureau within the Ministry of Finance and Economy from 2004 to 2005, and served as deputy minister for trade at the foreign ministry from 2008 to 2011. He previously served as ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the European Union from 2011 to 2012. He notably earned the trust of former president Lee Myung-bak for his work as Sherpa for the G-20 summit in 2010. Ahn speaks English fluently.
Why has he been in the news?
Ahn’s appointment as ambassador to United States was unexpected because it is unusual for the ROK to send a trade expert to Washington. Past South Korean ambassadors in the post have usually been political-military experts. It is also rare to appoint a deputy-ministerial level person to the position. Recent ambassadors were either former prime ministers or ministers.
What can we expect from him?
Due to his strong background and experience with trade issues, Ahn’s appointment suggests President Park’s focus on successful implementation of the KORUS FTA. Upcoming issues with alliance will include 123 civil nuclear agreement negotiations, dealing with North Korea’s nuclear threat and KORUS FTA implementation. With Foreign Minister Yun in Seoul as the pol-mil expert and Ahn as the trade expert, the two form a solid, professional foundation for the managing of the U.S.-ROK alliance and relationship.