Fe­male diplo­mats fill­ing posts deal­ing with ma­jor coun­tries

The Korea Times - - PEOPLE - By Park Ji-won jw­[email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

Korea’s fe­male diplo­mats are ex­pected to fill se­nior posts in the for­eign min­istry deal­ing with four ma­jor coun­tries for Korea — the United States, Ja­pan, China and Rus­sia — amid ris­ing diplo­matic ten­sion sur­round­ing the Korean Penin­sula.

Ac­cord­ing to diplo­matic sources, Park Eun-kyung, an aide to For­eign Min­is­ter Kang Kyung-wha, is ex­pected to be the first woman ap­pointed as di­rec­tor of the for­eign min­istry’s North Amer­ica Divi­sion 1. The divi­sion, which mainly han­dles diplo­matic af­fairs with the U.S., is known as one of prin­ci­pal de­part­ments for the min­istry given the U.S.’ huge role in the re­gion and its re­la­tions with Korea.

Lee Min-ky­ong was ap­pointed as di­rec­tor for the Asia and Pa­cific Divi­sion 1 in Au­gust, which mainly han­dles Seoul-Tokyo re­la­tions, ac­cord­ing to the for­eign min­istry. Yeo So-young has been serv­ing as di­rec­tor for the North­east Asia Divi­sion 2 since July, where she took part in deal­ing with lo­cal gov­ern­ments of China and ex­changes in the pri­vate sec­tor be­tween the two coun­tries.

Kwon Young-a has been serv­ing as di­rec­tor for the Eura­sia Divi­sion, han­dling af­fairs on Rus­sia and Eura­sia re­gion since May 2018. Adding to diplo­matic af­fairs, she is also in charge of eco­nomic and trade af­fairs there. Lee Seon-ah, who be­came the first fe­male di­rec­tor of North East Asia Divi­sion 1 in Fe­bru­ary 2018, was ap­pointed as head of the new task­force on strat­egy co­or­di­na­tion sup­port which deals mainly with Wash­ing­ton-Bei­jing dis­putes.

It is no­table to see women in charge of bi­lat­eral diplo­macy with the most im­por­tant coun­tries for Korea.

The ap­point­ments high­light the in­crease in the pro­por­tion of fe­male work­ers at the min­istry. Fe­male em­ploy­ment at the for­eign min­istry was at 29.4 per­cent in 2013, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment data, and in­creased to 38.7 per­cent in 2018.

The ap­point­ments are also seen to re­flect Kang’s firm de­ter­mi­na­tion to ap­point more se­nior and di­rec­tor-level fe­male of­fi­cials in the min­istry. Kang has openly said she had dif­fi­cul­ties in find­ing a full-time pro­fes­sor job as a fe­male scholar here in the past. Since 2017 she has been push­ing an ini­tia­tive to in­crease the pro­por­tion of se­nior-level fe­male em­ploy­ees to 26.38 per­cent by 2022.

Korea Times file

For­eign Min­is­ter Kang Kyung-wha gives a con­grat­u­la­tory speech for the min­istry’s new em­ploy­ees at the head­quar­ters of the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs in this April 26 file photo.

Park Eun-kyung

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