The Leaderboard: Moon Chung-in

Who is he?

Moon Chung-in, retired professor of political science from Yonsei University, is president Moon Jae-in’s nomination for special advisor for unification, diplomacy and national security affairs.Dr. Moon retired from Yonsei University in 2016 where he taught for 22 years. He was also an adjunct professor at Duke University and University of Geneva, and visiting professor at the University of California, San Diego. Prior to his post at Yonsei University, he taught at University of Kentucky from 1985 to 1994 and at Williams College from 1984 to 1985.

In the Roh Moo-hyun government, Dr. Moon was Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Northeast Asia Cooperation Initiative in 2004 and 2005, and member of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Defense Reform from 2004 to 2007. He was also appointed Ambassador for International Security Affairs by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade from 2006 to 2008. During his advisory role to presidents Roh and Kim Dae-jung, he contributed in drafting and implementing the Sunshine Policy of engagement toward North Korea.

Dr. Moon is widely recognized in academia for his expertise in international relations and east Asian security issues. He has written or edited more than 40 books and published more than 250 articles, and is an editorial board member for several academic journals including International Studies Quarterly, European Journal of International Relations and International Politics. He served as dean of the Graduate School of International Studies at Yonsei University from 2000 to 2002, president of The Korean Association of Peace Studies between 2004 and 2006, and most recently director of the Kim Dae-jung Presidential Library from 2012 to 2016. He was born on Jeju island, received his BA in Philosophy at Yonsei University, obtained an MA and PhD in Political Science from the University of Maryland.

Moon Chung-in of South Korea. Source: Crawford Forum’s flickr photostream, used under a creative commons license.

Why has he been in the news?

Dr. Moon Chung-in was nominated by president Moon Jae-in as one of two special advisors on unification, diplomacy and national security affairs on May 21, 2017. Hong Seok-hyun, a media mogul in South Korea and former ambassador to the U.S., was also nominated as special advisor along with Dr. Moon. The position of special advisors for unification, diplomacy and national security is a newly installed post in the presidential secretariat, and president Moon said in his appointment announcement that he will actively seek advice from these advisors even though it is a non-permanent post.

What can we expect from him?

Drawing on his previous advisory experience from the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations, Dr. Moon is expected to play an important role in closely guiding the South Korean president on inter-Korean issues. Dr. Moon is a strong advocate of engagement toward North Korea. His recent publications include The Sunshine Policy: Defense of Engagement as a Path to Peace in Korea (2012), where he called for a revival of engagement policies toward North Korea.

This piece was initially featured as part of the CSIS Korea Chair’s Impact Players series here. Impact Players is a series presented by the Korea Chair to inform audiences about key policy makers in issue areas of importance to the Korean peninsula and U.S.-Korea relations.

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