Sung Y. Kim (born 1960) is a Korean-born U.S. diplomat and the current United States Ambassador to the Philippines as well as the former United States Special Representative for North Korea Policy. He previously served as the United States Ambassador to South Korea and the U.S. Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks.
Early life and education
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. Kim grew up in Los Angeles and is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA), Loyola Law School (JD), and the London School of Economics (LL.M). He also holds an honorary degree from the Catholic University of Korea.
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.
He then worked as Staff Assistant in the Bureau of East Asia 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.
United States Ambassadorship
Ambassador to South Korea
On June 24, 2011, President Obama nominated Kim to be the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea. However, Kim's nomination stalled after U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl placed a hold 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.
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.
Ambassador to the Philippines
On May 19, 2016, U.S. President Obama nominated Kim to replace Philip Goldberg as the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines. 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. Kim arrived in Manila on December 3, a month after he was sworn in, and presented his credentials to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on December 6.
Kim is married to Jae Eun Chung, with whom he has two daughters.