By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Reporters Sua Kim, Hillary Kang
President Moon Jae-in reportedly offered to newly accredited American Ambassador Harry Harris, “I hear that Mister Ambassador likes Andong Soju (traditional Korean liquor popular among Korean sprit lovers), and it might be a good idea that one day we share the drink together.” This reported by popular Korean-language daily, Dong-A Ilbo, on July 26, 2018.
The post of the ambassador of the United States in Seoul had been vacant for over a year with the charge d’affaires performing the job on behalf of the ambassador for one and half years since former Ambassador Marc Lippert left Korea on Jan. 20, 2017.
There had been a variety of rumors concerning the absence of the U.S. ambassadors, some even suggesting (obviously without any ground) that the ROK-U.S. relations might have become ‘different’ from the past following the birth of a new government in Korea, which some considered to be progressive compared with two preceding conservative governments.
As if to reflect such rumors, in almost all street demonstrations of the right-wingers they were waves of Korean flags and the Stars and Stripes, while, in a sharp contrast, such American flags were witnessed at almost all the demonstrations of the non-rightists.
To the offer of President Moon, Ambassador Harris was reported to have responded, “Yes, Minister President, we would need a lot of Andong Soju because there are so many things to discuss about.”
Ambassador Harris, according to reports, was born between an American father and a Japanese mother, according to Dong-A, and has become the first Asian-descent U.S. ambassador to Seoul. Harris is rated to the ‘Heaviest-weight ambassador among all former U.S. ambassadors to Korea.
At a meeting between President and Moon with five newly accredited ambassadors to Seoul, the others being Ambassadors Philip Turner of New Zealand, Frode Solberg from Norway, Peter Lescouhier of Belgium and Alfred Xuereb of the Holy See (the Vatican).At credential presentation ceremony at Cheong Wa Dae, President Moon was quoted as saying: "Strong South Korea-U.S. alliance is more important than ever to realize our mutual objectives on the Korean Peninsula, especially at such an important time of dialogue between the South and the North, and the North and the U.S.," Moon told Harris, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom.
"I expect Ambassador Harris to play a great role," the President was quoted as saying.
President Moon also welcomed what he called a "good development" in the allies' joint efforts to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons, noting the communist state appears to have begun dismantling its missile test and launch sites.
"The intelligence offices of our two countries believe North Korea is dismantling its missile engine test site and missile launch site, following its dismantlement of its nuclear test site," Moon said, according to the spokesman. "It is a good sign for the denuclearization of North Korea."
Harris said the U.S., too, was looking forward to the dismantlement of the missile test sites and the return of the remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War, which he said will be a token of sincerity from the North to honor its leader Kim Jong-un's agreement with U.S. President Donald Trump.
The two leaders met in Singapore on June 12 for the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit that followed two inter-Korean summits between Moon and Kim, held April 27 and May 26.
Moon expressed hope that denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea will further accelerate following the return of the remains of U.S. troops.
Ambassador Harris commanded the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), now known as the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), from May, 2015 to May, 2018. He is the first Asian-American to hold four-star rank in the U.S. Navy and the first to head USPACOM. Prior to USPACOM, he commanded the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Other operational commands include the U.S. 6th Fleet, Striking and Support Forces NATO, Joint Task Force Guantanamo, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1, and Patrol Squadron 46.
From 2011 to 2013, Ambassador Harris is known to have served as the representative of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of State. In this role, he traveled to over 80 countries with the Secretary and participated in most of the Secretary’s meetings with foreign leaders. He also served as the U.S. Roadmap Monitor for the Mid-East Peace Process.
Ambassador Harris’ personal decorations include the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award, the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, three Navy Distinguished Service Medals, three Defense Superior Service Medals, three Legions of Merit, two Bronze Stars, and the Air Medal. He received the Republic of Korea’s Tong-il medal in 2014. He has also been decorated by the governments of Australia, France, Japan, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Singapore.
Harris reportedly was born in Japan and reared in Tennessee and Florida. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978. He holds master’s degrees from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. He also did post-graduate work at Oxford University and completed the Seminar 21 fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Ambassador Harris’ father served in the U.S. Navy, and was a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War (1950-3). He was stationed in Korea and Japan after World War II until he retired in 1958. Harris’ mother was Japanese. She moved to Tennessee with her husband and young son in 1958 and became an American citizen in 1974.
Ambassador Harris is married to Ms. Bruni Bradley, herself a career Naval officer.
The United States to the Republic of Korea (south) is the one and only one country in the whole world on whom the Koreans in the South can rely for their very existence. Without their support in 1950, there would be no free Korea existing today.
President Moon Jae-in and his government are using an entirely different approach toward the North Korea regime from all the preceding governments.
Everyone in the ROK sincerely hopes Moon will succeed and Chairman Kim Jong Un of North Korea is a person whom Moon believes him to be.
However, many Koreans in the south, especially the established generation and the Korean War generation, in particular, are experiencing a hard time unable to determine what Chairman in the North really has in mind.
From all they know, it is very difficult to believe that much has really changed in North Korea, especially on the part of the ruling clique around Chairman Kim.
One of the salient points making them suspect the real intention of Chairman Kim is question, “Will Chairman Kim really give up his hard-earned nukes?”
The majority of people in the South, when asked this question, say “No” without a moment of hestiation—perhaps with the sole exception of the progressively minded young people and, perhaps, the progressives in the government of President Moon.
The problem is the people in the South, who really know North Korea and the true nature of the North Korean regime, on the path to extinction.
The personal experience of the Korean War generation, often, sadly falls on deaf ears, and this is a very, very problem, especially in the minds of the patriotic generation in Korea, who personally fought against the North Korean invasion forces during the Korean War (1950-3).
Everyone in the South wishes that Chairman Kim will be different from his father and grandfather who personally started the fratricidal Korean War. Everyone in the South hopes that President Moon Jae-in obviously reposing a great extent trust in Chairman Kim will prove right.
In any case, the United States is a very, very important country to the ROK, and most of the people, especially the established generation, always wanted to call them a ‘blood-forged ally’ from the protection provided to them in safeguarding the freedom and democracy they enjoy today from the formerly Communist North.
At this juncture, it would not be amiss to have a closer look at the newly accredited Ambassador Harry Harris of the United States to the Republic of Korea. Here are excerpts from the Wikipedia account of Ambassador Harris.
Excerpts from the Wikipdia account of Ambassador Harris:
Name: Harry B. Harris Jr.
Assumed office on July 7, 2018 as new United States ambassador to the Republic of Korea.
Preceded by Mark Lippert (2017).
Born: August 4, 1956 (age 61), Yokosuka, Japan
Education: United States Naval Academy (BS), Harvard University (MPA), Georgetown University (MA)
Military service: Service/branch: United States Navy
Years of service: 1978–2018
Rank: US Navy O10 infobox.svg Admiral
Commands: United States Pacific Command, United States Pacific Fleet, U.S. Sixth Fleet, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, JTF Guantanamo, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1, VP-46
Defense Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Defense Superior Service Medal (3)
Legion of Merit (3)
Bronze Star (2)
Meritorious Service Medal (4)
Air Medal with bronze Strike/Flight numeral 1
Distinguished Honor Award
Harry Binkley Harris Jr. is a retired admiral in the United States Navy who currently serves as the United States Ambassador to South Korea. He was the first Asian American to achieve the rank of admiral in the U.S. Navy, and was the highest-ranking Japanese American in the U.S. military during his time as commander.
Born in Japan, he is also the first 4-star admiral to have participated in the Navy Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (NJROTC) and the first officer from the U.S. Navy's P-3 Orion maritime patrol aviation community to achieve 4-star rank. While a Vice Admiral, he served as the Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Harris was Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet in Hawaii from 2013–2015. He took command of USPACOM on May 27, 2015, and retired from Naval service on June 1, 2018.
Harris is a 1978 graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. He was the U.S. Navy's "Old Goat" – the longest-serving Naval Academy graduate still on active duty – from January 2017 until April 2018, when he passed the title on to his classmate, Admiral Kurt W. Tidd, in a private ceremony at the Pentagon. He was also the Navy's 15th "Gray Owl" – the Naval Flight Officer on active duty who has held this designation the longest period. Harris passed the Gray Owl to Vice Admiral Herman A. Shelanski at the National Naval Aviation Museum's 2018 Naval Aviation Symposium.
On 30 June 2018, Harris was sworn in as the United States Ambassador to South Korea.
Early life and education:
He was born in Yokosuka, Japan in 1956. His father, LTJG Harry Binkley Harris, Sr., was a U.S. Navy Machinist's Mate (and later chief petty officer) when he served aboard the USS Lexington (CV-2) during the Battle of the Coral Sea, and his mother, Fumiko Harris (Ohno), was Japanese. After his family's move to the United States, Harris grew up in Crossville, Tennessee and Pensacola, Florida, where he attended local public schools.
Harris graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978. He majored in general engineering and was a varsity fencer.
After flight training, he was designated as a Naval Flight Officer and assigned to Patrol Squadron Forty-Four (VP-44), homeported at Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine. He flew the P-3C Orion, deploying throughout the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and Mediterranean Sea. His subsequent operational tours include assignment as a Tactical Action Officer on board USS Saratoga, to include participation in dealing with the Achille Lauro hijacking and the 1986 air strikes against Libya (Operation Attain Document III). He served as Operations Officer in Patrol Squadron Four (VP-4) at Naval Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, deploying to Southwest Asia during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He had three tours with Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1/Task Force 57/Task Force 72, homeported in Kami Seya, Japan. During his earlier tours with Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1, Harris participated in Operations Earnest Will and Southern Watch.
In 2002, he reported to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / U.S. Fifth Fleet in Manama, Bahrain, serving as Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans, and Pol-Mil Affairs (N3/N5). He was responsible for the planning and execution of the Naval component's portion of Operation Iraqi Freedom, which began on March 19, 2003.
His aviation command assignments include Patrol Squadron Forty-Six (VP-46) at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, and Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1/CTF 57/CTF 72 at Kami Seya, Japan. Task Force 57, the U.S. 5th Fleet maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft force, was heavily involved in Operation Enduring Freedom as squadrons and aircrews under his command flew nearly 1,000 P-3 and EP-3 surveillance and reconnaissance sorties over Afghanistan. Additional Flag Officer command assignments included Joint Task Force Guantanamo in Cuba, U.S. Sixth Fleet / Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO in Italy, and the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Harris' shore assignments include Aide and Flag Lieutenant to the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan in Yokosuka, Japan; three tours on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations to include two flag officer tours and a tour as a strategist in the Strategy and Concepts Branch; Chief Speechwriter to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His Flag assignments are described below.
Harris receives the South Korean Tong-il national defense medal in 2014.
His educational assignments include selection for the Navy's Harvard/Tufts Program, where he graduated with a Master's of Public Administration from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1992. Subsequently selected as an Arthur S. Moreau Scholar, he studied international relations and ethics of war at Oxford and Georgetown University, earning a Master of Arts in National Security Studies from the latter in 1994. While at Georgetown, he was a Fellow in the School of Foreign Service. He was also an MIT Seminar 21 fellow for the 1999–2000 class.
Harris has logged 4400 flight hours--including over 400 combat hours--in U.S. and foreign maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. He is a recipient of the Navy League's Stephen Decatur Award for Operational Competence and the CIA's Agency Seal Medal. For his work in diversity and leadership, he has also received the NECO Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the APAICS Lifetime Achievement Award, the WWAAC Community Spirit Award, and the AAGEN Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2017, Harris was named an Honorary Chief Petty Officer by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven S. Giordano in recognition of his leadership and "extraordinary dedication to the Navy's core values of honor, courage, and commitment."
Adm. Harris thanks a 442nd Regimental Combat Team veteran for his contributions in World War II during a 2014 ceremony.
Director, Current Operations and Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Division (OPNAV N31/34)
In August 2004, in his first Flag assignment, he reported to the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations, where he was responsible for Navy current operations, the Navy Command Center, and anti-terrorism/force protection policy.
Commander, Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
In March 2006, he assumed command of Joint Task Force Guantanamo in Cuba. His service was notable as he was in charge when three prisoners, Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi Al-Utaybi, Salah Ali Abdullah Ahmed al-Salami and Yasser Talal Al Zahrani, died in the custody of US forces. Defense reported the deaths as suicides. Harris said at the time,
A report, Death in Camp Delta, was published in December 2009 by the Center for Policy & Research of Seton Hall University School of Law, under the supervision of its director, Professor Mark Denbeaux, attorney for two Guantanamo detainees, criticizing numerous inconsistencies in the official accounts of these deaths. The report suggested there had either been gross negligence or an attempt to cover up homicides of the men, perhaps due to torture under interrogation.
On 18 January 2010, Scott Horton of Harper's Magazine published a story suggesting that al-Salami, Al-Utaybi and Al-Zahrani had died as a result of accidental manslaughter during a torture session, and that the official account was a cover-up. Horton had undertaken a joint investigation with NBC News, based on an account by four former guards at Guantanamo Bay detention camp. They suggested that the men had died at a black site, informally called "Camp No," used for interrogation including torture. It was located about a mile outside the regular camp boundaries.
Director of Operations, U.S. Southern Command
From June 2007 to April 2008, Harris served as Director of Operations (J3) for U.S. Southern Command in Miami. He led the joint planning effort for Operation Willing Spirit (the rescue of American hostages held hostage in Colombia).
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV N6)
Adm. Harris wears Google Glass during a presentation at AFCEA West in February 2014.
Harris returned to the Pentagon to serve as the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Communication Networks (OPNAV N6) and the Deputy Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer (Navy) until November 2009. He was responsible for early resource sponsor decisions for the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES), Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN), Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) and Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA).
Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet
In November 2009, Harris assumed command of the U.S. 6th Fleet and the Striking and Support Forces NATO, both headquartered in Naples, Italy. He concurrently served as Deputy Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Deputy Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa. In 2011, he was designated as the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC) for Operation Odyssey Dawn, the U.S.-led coalition operation against Libya.
Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
In October 2011, he assumed the position of Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In this capacity, he served as the Chairman's direct representative to the U.S. Secretary of State. He was also the designated U.S. Roadmap Monitor for the Middle East Peace Process.
Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet
Harris was promoted to Admiral and assumed command of the US Pacific Fleet on October 16, 2013. He has been critical of Chinese land reclamation activities in the South China Sea saying "(China is) creating a great wall of sand".
Commander, U.S. Pacific Command
Harris as USPACOM commander
Harris was nominated on September 22, 2014, by President Barack Obama to command the US Pacific Command. His appointment was confirmed by the Senate on December 11, 2014. Harris took command of USPACOM on May 27, 2015. He regarded North Korea as the biggest threat to security in Asia, calling for diplomacy backed by military power to "bring Kim Jong-Un to his senses; not to his knees" in pursuit of peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial, ADM Harris and his wife pay tribute to fallen Sailors and Marines with President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, 3 November 2017.
In December 2016, Harris led the military commemoration activities for the 75th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and Oahu. On 5 December, he paid tribute to Japanese-Americans who served in World War II. He delivered the keynote speech during National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 7 December, and accompanied President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe to render honors at the USS Arizona Memorial on 27 December. The visit – the first by a Japanese Prime Minister to the Memorial – was hailed by President Obama as "a historic gesture of reconciliation."
U.S. Ambassador to South Korea
Harris was nominated by President Donald Trump to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Australia in February 2018, but was renominated to become Ambassador to South Korea by Trump at the suggestion of newly sworn-in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on May 23, 2018.
Harris was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as Ambassador to South Korea by voice vote on June 28, 2018.
On June 30, 2018, Harris was officially sworn in as the new United States Ambassador to South Korea.