Just like South Korea is one of America’s most important partners in Asia, so is the United States a key ally for South Korea. The importance of this relationship is visible: the embassy of the United States sits right in the city center of Seoul and more than 25.000 American soldiers are currently stationed throughout the country. In opinion surveys, South Koreans state that they view the United States in a more positive light than any of their regional neighbors.
An important role in the day-to-day management of this relationship is played by the diplomatic staff of the United States in South Korea. We had the unique opportunity to meet Mark Lippert, the current Ambassador of the United States to South Korea, as well as his staff and his basset hound Grigsby in his residence in Seoul. In our brief interview we spoke about his position and responsibilities, America’s perspective on regional issues and President Obama’s “Pivot to Asia.”
Ambassador Lippert obtained his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Stanford University, respectively in political science and international policy studies. Before he became Ambassador to South Korea in 2014, he was Chief of Staff for President Obama’s National Security Council and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs.
We tend to engage people from all walks of life. I’ve done a number of town halls and universities, I meet with people in industry, I try to engage people in a range of different settings to hear the varied views of Korean people; not just about the United States but about Korea’s place in the world and other things we could do cooperatively together. It’s actually one of our best source of ideas.
The interview was recorded June 10th in Seoul.