Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Date of Birth: 13/04/1953
Place of Birth: Seoul
Seoul’s African diplomacy continues its vigorous new pace. Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan completed his second trip of the year to the continent, visiting Gabon, Congo-Kinshasa and Ethiopia on 2-9 April. Kim visited Algeria in February to firm up relations and to get a closer view of the unfolding events in Egypt. This month’s trip marketed South Korean expertise in energy, agriculture and infrastructure.
Construction plans at the port of Banana, Congo-Kinshasa, have attracted South Korean contractors; Gabon’s oil fields beckon; Ethiopia offers agricultural and mining possibilities. Ahead of the 2012 KOAFEC ministerial conference, Kim also paid a visit to African Union Chairman Jean Ping in Addis Ababa.
Born in 1953, Kim graduated from Seoul National University in 1976 with a bachelor’s in economics and took a master’s at the University of London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies in 1987. His foreign postings include the United States, India and the Russian Federation. He was Ambassador to Uzbekistan (2002-05) and Austria (2006-08). On rotations back to Seoul, he worked in the ministry’s European, North American, planning and management offices. He returned from Vienna in 2008 to become Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade and soon joined President Lee Myung-bak’s cabinet as Senior Secretary for Foreign Affairs and National Security.
Kim held the post during a period of increased tensions with North Korea: the 2008 killing of a 53-year-old tourist who wandered off a Hyundai-sponsored ‘friendship’ resort into a North Korean military base; Pyongyang’s 2009 nuclear and missile tests; and the 2010 sinking of the Cheonan.