Impact Player: Cho Yoon-je
September 1, 2017
Who Is he?
On August 30, 2017, Cho Yoon-je was nominated as the Republic of Korea (ROK)’s next ambassador to the United States of America by Cheong Wa Dae. Cho is currently a visiting professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). He is also part of the emeritus faculty at Sogang University’s Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS).
At Sogang University GSIS, Cho teaches courses such as International Economic Analysis, Korean Economic Development, International Capital Markets, and Financial Institutions and Systems. Within the university he also held leadership positions, such as being the director of Sogang University’s Institute for Area Studies. Cho was a key adviser on foreign relations and security issues for President Moon Jae-in’s election campaign earlier this year, according to media sources. After winning the snap presidential election in May 2017, President Moon Jae-in designated Cho as his Special Envoy to the European Union and Germany.
Cho’s esteemed career in both public service and academia reflects his expertise in international finance and economics. Between 2003 and 2008, Cho served the ROK government as the ROK Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 2005 to 2008 and as President Roh Moo-hyun’s economic advisor from 2003 to 2005.
Before joining the Sogang University faculty in 1997, Cho worked in both government and multilateral organizations. His notable experiences include serving as the Senior Counselor to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economy of the ROK from 1996 to 1997, Vice President of the Korea Institute of Public Finance from 1995 to 1996, Senior Economist at the Financial Sector Development Department of the World Bank from 1992 to 1993, Economist at the Program Development and Review Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 1989 to 1992, and adjunct professor at Georgetown University from 1989-1992. Cho was also a core team member of the World Development Report that the World Bank published in 1989.
Cho completed both a Master of Arts and Ph.D in economics at Stanford University by 1984. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Seoul National University in 1976.
Why has he been in the news?
Cho’s announcement as the next Republic of Korea (ROK) Ambassador to the United States was one of three nominations for key ambassadorial positions for the ROK. On August 30, Cheong Wa Dae also named Noh Young-min, a former legislator of the Democratic Party, and Lee Su-hoon, an international relations professor at Kyungnam University, as ROK Ambassadors to the People’s Republic of China and Japan, respectively.
Upon announcing the three ambassador nominations on August 30, the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun reported that the ROK government already filed the agreements for the new ambassador appointments with the respective host countries. This process is expected to take up to a few days to several weeks.
What can we expect from him?
Media sources assess that Cho was a popular candidate for the U.S. ambassador position based on his high-ranking position as a leading figure of President Moon’s campaign-trail think tank and his influential role as an early foreign relations advisor. Additionally, Cho’s expertise on international economics and finance is expected to benefit the ROK government and the ongoing discussions on the U.S.-Korea (KORUS) free trade agreement. After initial bilateral negotiations last week between the United States Trade Representative (USTR), Robert Lightizer and the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong of the ROK, the future of the bilateral trade agreement remains ambiguous.
On August 30, 2017, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun voiced his confidence in Cho succeeding “as the new South Korean ambassador to the United States, the country’s most important ally, Cho is expected to greatly contribute to our national interests by successfully serving as a bridge between the two countries on various issues, such as the Korea-U.S. FTA.”