Sung Yong Kim (Korean: 김성용; born 1960)[2][4] is an American diplomat of Korean descent serving as the United States Special Representative for North Korea Policy since 2021, and previously from 2014 to 2016. He has also served as the acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from January to June 2021.[1][5]

Sung Kim
United States Ambassador to Indonesia
Assumed office
October 21, 2020
PresidentDonald Trump
Joe Biden
Preceded byJoseph R. Donovan Jr.
United States Special Envoy for the DPRK
Assumed office
May 21, 2021
PresidentJoe Biden
Preceded byStephen Biegun
In office
November 6, 2014 – November 3, 2016
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byGlyn T. Davies
Succeeded byJoseph Y. Yun
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
In office
January 20, 2021 – June 4, 2021[1]
PresidentJoe Biden
Preceded byDavid R. Stilwell
Succeeded byDaniel Kritenbrink
United States Ambassador to the Philippines
In office
December 6, 2016 – October 4, 2020[2]
PresidentBarack Obama
Donald Trump
Preceded byPhilip Goldberg
Succeeded byJohn C. Law
(Chargé d’Affaires)
United States Ambassador to South Korea
In office
November 25, 2011 – October 24, 2014
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byKathleen Stephens
Succeeded byMark Lippert
United States Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks
In office
July 31, 2008 – October 13, 2011
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Barack Obama
Preceded byChristopher R. Hill
Succeeded byClifford Hart
Personal details
Kim Sung Yong

1960 (age 61–62)[2]
Seoul, South Korea
Spouse(s)Jae Eun Chung
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania
Loyola Marymount University
London School of Economics
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGim Seong Yong
McCune–ReischauerKim Sŏng Yong

In 2008, Kim was appointed by President George W. Bush as the U.S. Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks. He later served in the Obama and Trump administrations as the Ambassador to South Korea from 2011 to 2014 and as the Ambassador to the Philippines from 2016 to 2020.[6] In 2020, Kim was appointed by President Donald Trump as Ambassador to Indonesia.

Early life and educationEdit

Sung Kim was born in Seoul, South Korea, in 1960 to a South Korean diplomat and moved to the United States in 1973 following his father's posting in Tokyo.[7] Kim grew up in Los Angeles and is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA, 1982), Loyola Law School of the Loyola Marymount University (JD, 1985), and the London School of Economics (LL.M).[4][8] He also holds an honorary degree from the Catholic University of Korea.[9]

Professional careerEdit

Before joining the United States Foreign Service at the State Department, Kim worked as public prosecutor at the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.[8]

He then worked as Staff Assistant in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs in Washington, D.C. Kim was then assigned to United States Embassy in Seoul and worked as the Chief of Political Military Affairs. He then served as a Political Officer in Tokyo, Japan. His other assignments were to Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong. Back in Washington, he was appointed Director of the Office of Korean Affairs and served in the position from August 2006 to July 2008. On July 31, 2008 he was appointed Special Envoy for the Six-Party talks and accorded the rank of an ambassador after confirmation of nomination by the U.S. Senate.[6]

United States AmbassadorshipEdit

Ambassador to South KoreaEdit

On June 24, 2011, President Obama nominated Kim to be the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea.[10] However, Kim's nomination stalled after U.S. Senator Jon Kyl placed a hold[11] on Kim's nomination over concerns not with Kim but with U.S. policy toward North Korea. On October 13, 2011 Kyl lifted his hold on Kim's nomination and the Senate confirmed Kim by unanimous consent.[12][13]

Kim completed his assignment to South Korea in late October 2014 and returned to the United States, where he was expected to continue to work on diplomacy involving East Asia. Mark Lippert was sworn in to succeed Kim as ambassador on October 24, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

In May 2014, near the end of his tenure, Kim was honored by the Asia Society for his service in Korea. Jonathan Karp, executive director of Asia Society, said Kim has done a lot to advance relations between the U.S. and Korea as a representative of the Obama administration.[14] He was also named an honorary citizen of Seoul by Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon who said to Kim "Time flies so quickly. I must say I'm sad you have to return to your country... Even after you leave Korea for your next post, I ask of you that, as an honorary citizen of Seoul, you continue to have special interests in and affection for the city of Seoul and for Korea." In response, Kim said "It is after all my city of birth and the place I have always considered to be my second home."[15]

Ambassador to the PhilippinesEdit

Kim (right) speaks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2018 at the Singapore Summit.

On May 19, 2016, U.S. President Obama nominated Kim to replace Philip Goldberg as the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines.[16] He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on September 28, 2016 and was sworn in by Secretary of State John Kerry at the Department of State on Thursday, November 3, 2016.[17] Kim arrived in Manila on December 3, a month after he was sworn in,[18] and presented his credentials to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on December 6.[19]

Kim, while Ambassador to the Philippines, led a delegation of American diplomats to hold talks with North Korean officials in Panmunjom in late May 2018. These talks were in regards to the upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.[20]

Ambassador to IndonesiaEdit

On July 10, 2019 the White House announced that he will be appointed to be Ambassador to Indonesia.[21] On August 6, 2020, his nomination was confirmed by voice vote.[5] He was appointed on August 31, 2020[2] and assumed office in October 2020.[22]

U.S. special envoy for North KoreaEdit

President Joe Biden announced on May 21, 2021 that he will serve as the U.S. special envoy for North Korea.[23]

Foreign honorsEdit

Personal lifeEdit

Kim is married to Jae Eun Chung, with whom he has two daughters.[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Sung Kim, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State, archived from the original on June 18, 2021
  2. ^ a b c d "Sung Y. Kim (1960-)". U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  3. ^ 성민호 (January 22, 2021). "성 김, 미 국무부 동아태 차관보 대행 임명". 시사경제신문. Archived from the original on March 28, 2021. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Two Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Commencement for the Conferring of Degrees (PDF), University of Pennsylvania, May 17, 1982, p. 12
  5. ^ a b "PN967 – Nomination of Sung Y. Kim for Department of State, 116th Congress (2019–2020)". August 6, 2020. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Sung Kim". U.S. Department of State. November 6, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  7. ^ "Asian American: Sung Kim Named Ambassador to S. Korea Goldsea".
  8. ^ a b "Sung Kim '85". Loyola Lawyer. Loyola Law School. 2013. p. 15.
  9. ^ a b "Ambassador-Designate Sung Kim". Embassy of the United States, Manila. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  10. ^ "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts". June 24, 2011. Retrieved October 13, 2011 – via National Archives.
  11. ^ "U.S., South Korean presidents hail trade deal". CNN. October 13, 2011. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
  12. ^ "Today's Senate Floor Log". US Senate. October 13, 2011. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
  13. ^ Josh Rogin (October 13, 2011). "U.S. Ambassador to South Korea finally confirmed". Foreign Policy. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
  14. ^ "Asia Society to honor Ambassador Sung Kim at gala May 16, 2014"
  15. ^ U.S. ambassador becomes honorary citizen of Seoul July 31, 2014
  16. ^ "U.S. President Obama nominates Sung Kim as ambassador to Philippines". CNN Philippines. May 20, 2016. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  17. ^ Esguerra, Anthony (November 3, 2016). "Korean-born Sung Kim sworn in as US envoy to the Philippines". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  18. ^ Esguerra, Anthony (December 1, 2016). "New US envoy Sung Kim arrives in Manila". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
  19. ^ Corrales, Nestor (December 6, 2016). "New US envoy Sung Kim vows to strengthen friendship, alliance with PH". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  20. ^ Epstein, Jennifer; Kong, Kanga (May 29, 2018). "White House Races to Prepare for Revived North Korea Summit". Bloomberg. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  21. ^ Spero, Domani (July 22, 2019). "U.S. Embassy Manila's Amb. Sung Y. Kim to be the Next U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia". Diplopundit. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  22. ^ "Ambassador Sung Kim". U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Indonesia. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  23. ^ "Biden Appoints Career Diplomat Sung Kim To Serve As Special Envoy To North Korea". The Public Radio Service of Western Kentucky University. May 22, 2021. Retrieved May 22, 2021.

External linksEdit

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by United States Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Ambassador to South Korea
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Special Envoy for North Korea Policy
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Ambassador to the Philippines
Succeeded by
John C. Law
(Chargé d’Affaires)
Preceded by United States Ambassador to Indonesia
Preceded by United States Special Envoy for the DPRK