U.S. Ambassador Feels Heat from WikiLeaks

      January 06, 2011 12:17

      Kathleen Stephens

      WikiLeaks has put U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens in an awkward situation since among the thousands of diplomatic telegrams that have been divulged the number sent by her is especially large and the content very detailed.

      Among those who find themselves in the hot seat with her are Chun Young-woo, the presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security, who made comments about Chinese diplomats' perception of North Korea, and Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun, who talked about her meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Former Chinese ambassador to Seoul Cheng Yonghua has also ended up with egg on his face as a result of talking to Stephens over dinner, where he offered a frank evaluation of North Korea's botched currency reform. 

      Many diplomats in Seoul are apparently now reluctant to meet her. One diplomatic source said, "It's true that the issue bothers me a bit when meeting her." Stephens told ruling Grand National Party members last month that she is under a lot of stress because of WikiLeaks but that people have been understanding.

      Many feel that the envoy cannot be blamed since she was only doing her duty as a diplomat by reporting her conversations to her superiors. "The fact that Stephens' telegrams are long and detailed reflects how diligently she works as an ambassador," one diplomat said. "She shouldn't be disadvantaged by the leaked cables."

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