The Washington Post

South Korean president’s visit comes amid Senate stalemate over ambassador

(South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg)

Lest that have you thinking that everything’s rosy in the Capitol ahead of Lee’s visit, however, Politico’s Ben Smith has a reminder that if there’s a stalemate to be had, the Senate will find a way.

Reports Smith:

The Administration’s nominee to be ambassador [to South Korea], Sung Kim, was announced this summer — but Sen. John Kyl (R- Ariz.) has reportedly placed a hold on Kim’s confirmation. Two sources said Kyl’s objections are to U.S. Korea policy, not to Kim, who was U.S. envoy to talks involving both Koreas.

Former U.S. foreign officials say the hold-up to what had been expected to be an easy confirmation for Kim aren’t helping the relationship with a major trading partner, and one on the verge of finalizing a free trade pact with the United States.

As Smith notes, the post is expected to remain filled throughout Lee’s visit by the current U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Kathleen Stephens — whose own confirmation, incidentally, was held up in 2008 over concerns by then-Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) about U.S. Korea policy.

Still, the current impasse over Kim — who has served since July 2008 as special envoy to the six-party nuclear talks on North Korea — puts something of a damper on what otherwise looks to be a celebratory visit by Lee to Capitol Hill on the heels of congressional approval of the long-stalled U.S.-Korea trade deal.

The Korean press has reported that Kyl has been blocking Kim’s full Senate confirmation vote since the summer over concerns about the Obama administration’s Korea policy. Kyl’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Sleep advice you won't find in baby books
In defense of dads
Scenes from Brazil's Carajás Railway
Play Videos
For good coffee, sniff, slurp and spit
How to keep your child safe in the water
How your online data can get hijacked
Play Videos
How to avoid harmful chemicals in school supplies
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
What you need to know about Legionnaires' disease
How to get organized for back to school
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom