Impact Player: Kang Kyung-wha
May 25, 2017Who is She?
Kang Kyung-wha is the senior advisor on policy to the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and a foreign minister nominee picked by President Moon Jae-in on May 21.
Kang is a veteran diplomat in multilateral diplomacy, serving both the South Korean government and the United Nations. She has been serving in key United Nations posts since 2006 and is the only person to be given positions in the organization by three successive secretary-generals since Kofi Annan. Before serving since December 2016 as a senior advisor on policy to the current Secretary-General Guterres, Kang was appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in 2013 and served as the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights at the level of Assistant Secretary-General since 2007. During Kofi Annan’s leadership in the UN, Kang was appointed as a deputy high commissioner at the UN Human Rights Office in 2006 which was equivalent in position to the UN deputy secretary-general, making her the first Korean female to be given the highest position ever in an international organization.
Before entering the UN in 2006, Kang served in various positions in the National Assembly and the foreign ministry. She was appointed Director General of International Organizations at the foreign ministry in 2005, becoming the second female diplomat to serve at the director-level. She also served as Minister in South Korea’s Permanent Mission to the UN from 2001 to 2005 during which she chaired the Commission on the Status of Women. Kang entered the foreign ministry in 1999.
Before her public service career, Kang taught at the English department in Sejong University after receiving her Ph.D. in inter-cultural communications from the University of Massachusetts. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Studies department from Yonsei University,
Why has she been in the news?
Kang is the first female to be nominated to the position of foreign minister. According to the Blue House, Kang was nominated for four reasons. First, Kang is an adroit diplomat who has achieved many “first” and “best” accomplishments as a female and a Korean diplomat. Second, she befits the role of resolving sensitive diplomatic issues with her diplomatic network and expertise accumulated domestically and globally. Third, the presidential house hopes South Korea will open a new paradigm of diplomacy under Kang’s leadership. Lastly, it is hoped that Kang’s commitment to refugee and human rights problems will raise South Korea’s diplomacy to a new status.
What can we expect from her?
Kang is likely to lead the foreign ministry using her extensive experience in the UN and in the foreign ministry. However, she must first undergo the confirmation hearing at the National Assembly to be appointed which is likely to be held in mid-June. Meanwhile, Kang is expected to arrive in Seoul on May 25 to prepare for the hearing.
Photo credit: ALEXANDER MARTINEZ/AFP/Getty Images