Former US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim has been designated as acting assistant secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the US State Department.
“Sung Kim is now the senior official for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs,” the US State Department posted on its website on January 20, 2021.
On Saturday, January 23, 2021 (Sunday in Manila), Kim visited the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. to meet with Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez.
The South Korean-born American diplomat served as US envoy to Manila for four years, from 2016 to 2020.
Kim’s new assignment will put him in constant contact with the Philippines and the rest of the US allies in the Indo-Pacific region. The EAP bureau is in charge of promoting a free and open Indo Pacific region, strengthening international resolve towards the denuclearization of North Korea, and building a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China.
It was during his time as ambassador to Manila when the United States returned the Balangiga Bells to the Philippines signaling the closure following a painful episode in the Philippine-US relations that dates back to the early 1900s.
“The bells’ return reflects the strong bonds and mutual respect between our nations and our peoples. It demonstrates our determination to honor the past and the sacrifices made together by Filipinos and Americans. And it heralds our bright future as friends, partners, and allies,” Kim said in his remarks during the return of the bells in December 2018.
After his stint in Manila, former President Donald J. Trump designated Kim as US ambassador to Indonesia.