Some Korean people expect the U.S. ambassador to face difficulty as Washington's top diplomat to the country of his birth, but Sung Kim said Wednesday he has never experienced an "identity crisis" with his ethnic background.
"I have not actually experienced any identity crisis," Ambassador Kim told in his first videotaped answer to questions from the general Korean public submitted through the embassy's Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Kim, a Korean-born American who took up his post in November, was responding to a question from a citizen named Oh Byeong-cheol, who asked, "Don't you experience any identity crisis working as a foreign diplomat in your parent's home country?"
"Given my background, many other people have asked me the same question," Kim said.
"First, let me say again how I am thrilled to work here as a U.S. ambassador," he continued. "It's truly wonderful to have the opportunity to represent the U.S. and Korea, my country of birth. I love both countries."
Kim said his Korean background gives him an "extra benefit rather than difficulty," citing his deeper understanding of Korean culture than his predecessors and his expertise on the North Korean nuclear issue.
The ambassador said his ethnic background will not influence U.S. policy toward South Korea, however.
"As everyone knows, I'm a U.S. diplomat representing the United States," Kim said. "Just as Korean diplomats overseas work hard to advance the Korean interest, I'm here to advance the U.S. interest."
Kim said the partnership between South Korea and the U.S. has never been better, "but even the best relationship can be improved and it certainly should never be taken for granted."
Last month, Kim launched a new program to expand people-to-people ties and increase his use of social media, in his latest effort to reach out to the general Korean public.
Under the program named "Ask the Ambassador," Internet users can send questions to Kim through the embassy's Twitter and Facebook accounts. Embassy staff collect the questions from which Kim chooses those to answer on video.
Kim was born in South Korea and moved to the U.S. in the 1970s before obtaining his U.S. citizenship in 1980. The diplomat has spent much of his career working on the Seoul-Washington alliance and the North Korean nuclear crisis. He is fluent in Korean. (Yonhap)