U.S. President Barack Obama is set to appoint one of his closest aides as Washington's next ambassador to Seoul, the U.S. media reported citing high-ranking officials there.
The Korean Embassy in the U.S. confirmed that Obama will notify Congress of the appointment of Mark Lippert on Friday.
Lippert, currently Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's chief of staff, will replace Sung Kim. He has been advising Obama on foreign policy since the president was in the Senate.
During his time in the Pentagon, the former Navy SEAL officer worked with the Korean government on a wide range of issues.
Some status-conscious Koreans worry that Lippert is not of equivalent stature to the U.S. ambassadors to Japan and China. The former is served by former President John F. Kennedy's daughter Caroline and the latter by Max Baucus, a six-term senator.
But former State Department official Kurt Campbell said Lippert will help further strengthen the bilateral ties because he is close to Obama.