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Victor Cha's ‘Motherland’

Posted February. 01, 2018 09:13,   

Updated February. 01, 2018 09:13

한국어

Georgetown University Professor Victor Cha, whose appointment as U.S. ambassador to Korea was recently repealed, is known to speak only in English when meeting with Korean correspondents in the United States, where he was born and raised. He learned how to speak Korean from his parents, who initially left Korea to study in the United States and eventually settled down, but his mother language is English. His background is clearly different from Sung Kim, the first U.S. ambassador to Korea as a Korean descent, who moved to the United States in his teens and uses Korean as his first language.

News reports of Cha's appointment as ambassador first came out in August last year, but it was followed by rumors that it was cancelled or actually did not happen in the first place. The appointment process had been unusually tedious. Despite the approval from the Korean government in December, however, the appointment was abruptly cancelled by the U.S. government. The reason for the cancellation is not clear, but it seems that there were continuous attempts within the Trump administration to prevent Cha's appointment.

Victor Cha received his doctorate from Columbia University in 1994 on his thesis on relations between Korea, the United States and Japan. He continued his academic career and appeared on media advising on issues on Korea before serving as director for Asian affairs for the National Security Council (NSC) during the George W. Bush administration from 2004 to 2007. "It will be difficult to meet Korea's expectations for me," Cha was known to say upon his appointment as NSC director, stressing his determination to protect interests of the United States. However, it appears that he has failed to pass the Trump administration's loyalty test.

Though viewed hawkish in relation to North Korea nuclear issue, he denies his identity as a hard-lined neoconservative. During the verification process, Cha opposed to striking a precision strike on North Korea's nuclear and missile facilities, given that it is impossible to evacuate Americans living in Korea and Japan, rather than out of concerns for Koreas. Though it is only natural that a U.S. ambassador nominee would put the safety for Americans first, I believe that inside his heart, he would be concerned about his "motherland."


pisong@donga.com