On the 20th, South Korean President Moon Jae-in nominated the former head of the National Security Office of the Blue House and the current President’s Special Assistant to the President for Unified Diplomatic Security, Jeong Yi-yong, as the foreign minister. South Korean public opinion analysis believes that the adjustment of the diplomatic team at the time of the change of the US president reflects the determination of the South Korean government or the new US government to promote dialogue on the peninsula and inject new impetus into the peace process on the Korean peninsula.
According to Yonhap News Agency’s report on the 20th, Zheng Yishu, 75, graduated from the Department of Foreign Affairs of Seoul National University in 1968 and has been in the field of diplomacy for many years. In 1971, Jeong Yi-yong passed the fifth foreign affairs examination and began his public career. He served as the Korean Minister to the United States and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Geneva Office. In 2004, he was elected to the 17th Congress; during the 19th Korean Presidential Election, Zheng Yirong, as the head of the diplomatic advisory group of the Moon Jae-in campaign team, coordinated and formulated the diplomatic program; since the establishment of the Moon Jae-in government, he has served as the head of the Blue House National Security Office for three years.
Yonhap News Agency commented that, as the first head of the National Security Office of the Moon Jae-in administration, Jeong Yi-yong is one of the figures who has been most deeply involved in South Korea’s foreign security policy and the North Korean-US denuclearization negotiations. In February 2018, North Korea participated in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Riding on the east wind of the “Peninsula Spring”, the leaders of South Korea, North Korea and the United States met one after another, and Zheng Yirong played a decisive role in this. On March 5 of the same year, he visited Pyongyang as a special envoy of the president and took away Moon Jae-in’s personal letter to North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un. After returning from his visit to North Korea, Zheng Yirong immediately went to the White House to meet with the then US President Trump on March 8 to build a bridge for the DPRK-US summit. South Korea’s “Pioneer Economy” analyzed that the appointment of “American Pass” as the new foreign minister was a targeted personnel arrangement after the new US government took office.
However, Yonhap News Agency stated that the current DPRK-US relations are very different from three years ago. The second DPRK-US summit meeting held in Hanoi in February 2019 ended in vain. The working-level negotiations held in Stockholm in October of the same year also ended in rupture. Since then, the DPRK-US dialogue has been suspended. Under this circumstance, Zheng Yiyong, who has led the peace process since the beginning of Moon Jae-in’s administration, entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, indicating that the peninsula issue will occupy the largest weight in South Korea’s foreign policy toward the United States facing the Biden administration.
On the 20th, Zheng Yirong expressed in his speech on the nomination of foreign minister that he would do his best to promote the peace process on the Korean Peninsula to take root. South Korea’s “Daily Business” stated that the time when the Moon Jae-in government announced the nomination coincided with the time when the United States ushered in the Biden era. Yonhap News Agency stated that in order to adapt to the situation of the United States forming a new diplomatic security team, South Korea has replaced the head of the Peninsula Peace Negotiations, which is responsible for negotiations with the North. Zheng Yirong, who was once a real power figure in the Blue House, is expected to increase the influence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in North Korea’s nuclear diplomacy.
In addition, members of the ruling Common Democratic Party Hwang Hee and Kwon Qisheng were nominated as ministers of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Small and Medium Ventures on the 20th.