New U.K. Ambassador No Stranger to Korea

  • By Jung Ji-sup

    March 22, 2018 12:13

    The new British ambassador to Korea met with reporters at his residence in Seoul on Wednesday and spoke about his past experience here.

    Simon Smith (60) was a beneficiary of a program in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office of selecting new ambassadors one to two years in advance to give them a chance to study the culture, language and history of their new host nations.

    Simon Smith

    It is rare for the U.K. Foreign Office to select novices to diplomatic posts, so seasoned ambassadors are quite familiar with this process.

    Smith was appointed in 2016 and spent six months studying Korean at Korea University last year. He delivered a three-minute address on Wednesday in Korean.

    A career diplomat with more than three decades of experience in Austria, the Ukraine and other countries, Smith said, "I learned that one of the fastest ways to understanding the country of residence is through literature."

    Regarding the recent decisions to hold inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korean summits, Smith said, "We see this as a real, genuine opportunity. We are extremely admiring the efforts that the administration of [South Korea] has made to take the opportunity presented by the holding of [the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang] and to build on this in a way that set up the summits."

    He added that the U.K.'s experience in nuclear-related issues could help the North scrap its nuclear weapons.

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