Connecting People & Ideas to Advance Mutual Interests in U.S.-Asia Relations

Joseph Yun

Ambassador Joseph Yun is recognized as one of the United States’ leading experts on relations with North Korea, as well as on broader U.S.-East Asian policy. In March 2022, the Biden administration appointed Ambassador Yun as Special Presidential Envoy for Compact Negotiations. He is Senior Advisor with The Asia Group and U.S. Institute of Peace and a Global Affairs Contributor for CNN. Ambassador Yun’s diplomatic career spanned thirty-three years, including serving as U.S. Special Representative for North Korea (2016-2018). In that position, Ambassador Yun led the State Department’s efforts to align regional powers behind a united policy to denuclearize North Korea. He was instrumental in reopening the “New York channel,” a direct communication line with officials from Pyongyang.

From 2013 to 2016 Ambassador Yun served as U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, actively forwarding the administration’s goal of elevating relations with Southeast Asia. During his tenure, Ambassador Yun hosted two visits to Malaysia by President Obama, resulting in the signing of the U.S.-Malaysian Comprehensive Partnership Agreement. From 2011-2013 he served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, leading efforts to nor-malize diplomatic relations with Myanmar. He also worked to lay the foundation for official participation by the President of the United States in the annual East Asian Summit, starting from 2011.

Previous assignments include Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southeast Asian Policy, Counselor for Political Affairs in the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, and Economic Counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, as well as earlier assignments in South Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and France. He is the recipient of a Presidential Meritorious Service Award, four Superior Honors Awards, and nine Foreign Service Performance Awards from the U.S. State Department.

Ambassador Yun joined the Foreign Service in 1985. Prior to that he was a senior economist for Data Resources, Inc., in Lexington, Massachusetts. He holds a MPhil degree from the London School of Economics and a BS from the University of Wales. He speaks Korean, Indonesian and French. He is married to Dr. Melanie Billings-Yun. They have one son, Matthew.