Impact Player: Ahn Chong-ghee
December 8, 2016
Who is he?
On November 21 Ahn Chong-ghee became second vice minister of foreign affairs in the Republic of Korea (ROK) Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Since April 2015, Ahn has served as the ROK ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and the Korean Mission to the European Union. Ahn joined MOFA in June 1982.
In addition to his time as ambassador to Belgium, Ahn has served at several other Korean diplomatic missions throughout the world including the Korean embassy in the United States from 1991-1993 and again from 2004-2007, the Korean embassy in Bolivia from 1993-1996, the Korean Consulate General in Shanghai, China from 2011-2013, and the Korean Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland from 1998-2002.
His previous posts have included many trade-related roles such as deputy director-general and director-general of the Bilateral Trade Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) from 2007-2011 and director of the World Trade Organization Division, Multilateral Trade Bureau, MOFAT from 2002-2004.
At the foreign ministry in Seoul, Ahn also served as deputy minister for economic affairs from 2013-2015, director for administrative management and legal affairs, MOFAT in 2002, and aide to the vice minister, MOFA from 1996-1998.
Ahn is a recipient of the Order of Service Merit (Red Stripes) December 2009. He earned a B.A. in French Language and Literature from Seoul National University (1981), completed coursework at Seoul National University School of Law (1983), and earned an M.A. in International Politics from Georgetown University (1989).
Why has he been in the news?
On November 16, President Park Geun-hye appointed Ahn Chong-ghee as second vice minister of foreign affairs. Ahn assumed the post on November 21. Ahn is replacing Cho Tae-yul who left the post upon his appointment as Ambassador to the United Nations in New York.
What can we expect from him?
As second vice minister, Ahn will direct MOFA departments dealing with international organizations, development cooperation, cultural diplomacy, international law, and overseas Koreans. Presidential spokesman Jung Youn-kuk said in a statement that Ahn was picked because “he is well suited to smoothly carry out the second vice minister's duties, such as handling the North Korean nuclear issue and protecting overseas Koreans, given his outstanding diplomatic skills and managerial capabilities” (Yonhap translation).
In his November 21 speech, Ahn discussed recent major changes in the international landscape such as the British vote to withdrawal from the European Union and the U.S. presidential election, saying these events raise worries that the world might be moving toward decentralization and isolation. To deal with this rapidly changing landscape Ahn called for the ROK foreign ministry to act as a single organism and cooperate as a unified entity.
Based on his remarks, his previous trade-related appointments, and South Korea’s acute reliance on global economic and security cooperation, we can expect Ahn to push back against emerging isolationism and be a champion for the U.S.-ROK alliance and global trade liberalization.Pictured above on left, the Republic of Korea Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Seoul Photo Credit: OZinOH Flickr