Noh Young-min, the first South Korean ambassador to China under the government of President Moon Jae-in who took office in May, left for Beijing Tuesday on his mission to develop what he said was “fateful” relations between the two countries.
Noh is known to be one of the closest aides to President Moon, playing a major role in Moon’s campaign team for the May 9 presidential by-election. He also served as Moon’s chief of staff when Moon ran for presidency in 2012.
When nominating Noh as his first top envoy to China, Moon said the nomination “itself” had an intention to send a message to China, the new head of the South Korean mission in Beijing said in an interview with Xinhua before his departure.
The message was that South Korea was setting a high value on relations with China, Noh said.
Noh said he got to have a great interest in China, especially its culture and history, when he was a college student. Since then, he learned much about China and began to like the neighboring country.
Unfortunately, he had no opportunity to learn the Chinese language, but he planned to learn it this time in Beijing as he likes Chinese poetry, especially the ones written by Du Fu, a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty.
“How happy it would be for me to be able to memorize Chinese poetry, which I like, in Chinese,” said Noh.
He traveled a lot to many regions across China both publicly and privately. Noh said he was very shocked when he visited the Nanjing Massacre Museum which exhibits the terrible history of Japan’s invasion and what he said was a “genocide” of hundreds of thousands of Chinese people.
Noh said it was very regrettable for Japan not to acknowledge its wartime history and not to take responsibility for the wartime atrocities as “a war criminal state” during World War II.
During his stay in and visits to China, Noh got to make a broad range of personal connections to Chinese friends, which he said would be beneficial to his mission in China as a top South Korean envoy.
In addition to his official mission, Noh said he would like to learn more about China and make more Chinese friends.
“China is our neighbor fatefully. We are close historically and geographically. It’s a fate from thousands of years of history,” said Noh.
Born in Cheongju city, almost at the center of the country, in 1957, he majored in business administration at Yonsei University in Seoul.
It took nearly 14 years for Noh to graduate from the university in 1990 as he was imprisoned and removed from a university register while he fought against the military dictatorships in 1970s and 1980s.
He was a labor agitator for 15 years, before entering politics in 2000. He was elected to the National Assembly in 2004, and re-elected in 2008 and 2012.
“Politics can have the most influence on our lives, though it cannot change all aspects of our lives. A way to politics is doing something for reality reform and future hope,” said Noh. Enditem