Sydney Seiler, the new Korea policy chief at the White House National Security Council, visited the Korean Foreign Ministry in Seoul on Tuesday. He arrived alongside a U.S. delegation led by Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy.
Seiler replaces Daniel Russell, who has been promoted to senior advisor for East Asian and Pacific affairs at the NSC.
Seiler is considered the most authoritative expert on political, cultural and social issues in both Koreas in the Obama administration.
In the 30 years he had worked as an analyst of intelligence on North Korea at the CIA, he spent 12 years in South Korea. He has an MA in Korean studies from Yonsei University and is so proficient in Korean language that he once gave a lecture in Korean at a Korean-American church in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.
He is the author of the book "Kim Il Song 1941-1948: The Creation of a Legend, the Building of a Regime." He served as Deputy DNI Mission Manager for North Korea since mid-2007, having joined the office when it was established in January 2006.
Like his predecessor, he agrees with the South Korean government's North Korea policy and believes that the North should not be allowed to stall for time or be rewarded simply for talking.
A diplomat who has known Seiler for more than 10 years said, "He knows how the North cheated the U.S. and South Korea in the process of nuclear development."
A Foreign Ministry official said, "If Russell, an expert on Japan, takes charge of Chinese and Japanese affairs as senior advisor at the NSC, Seiler will have enormous influence in Korean affairs."
Seiler is married to a Korean and they have two sons.