South Korea appointed national security advisor as new chief of intelligence agency

South Korea appointed national security advisor as new chief of intelligence agency
President Yoon Suk-yeol, left, is taking a picture with the newly appointed director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) on January 16. The South Korean government approved the appointment of Cho Tae-yong as the director of the NIS. Source: Office of the President

By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Jan. 18, 2024 6:48PM GMT+9

Cho Tae-yong, South Korea’s national security advisor, is starting a new career as the South Korean government has finalized the appointment making him new head of the country’s intelligence agency.

In a January 17 press release, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) reported that during the inaugural ceremony Cho stressed that he would strive to build a stronger organization and a more trustworthy agency for South Korean citizens. The release further noted Cho’s comments on the crucial tasks the intelligence agency currently confronts.

“North Korea’s ambition to advance and deploy their nuclear and missile weapons programs has become more conspicuous. In addition, festering diplomatic and national security issues, such as the strategic conflict between the United States and China, are approaching a breaking point,” explained the new director. Facing a situation where national security has become intertwined with the economy, Cho requested that officials fortify their expertise and strategic mindset to prepare for the challenges ahead.

During opening remarks at his January 11 parliamentary confirmation hearing, Cho stressed the importance of protecting the country from North Korea. The director, then-nominee, stated that North Korea’s nuclear capability, coupled with their advancing missile delivery systems, is the nation’s top security threat and must be dealt with using full force. Cho further stressed that North Korea’s illicit cyber activities, such as cyberattacks to steal technology tied to weapons of mass destruction, must be addressed preemptively.

Cho is taking over the top job as the former director, Kim Kyou-hyun, resigned from the post in November of last year. Cho is the second person to lead the country’s intelligence agency under President Yoon Suk-yeol. Before serving as the director of the NIS, Cho was the country’s national security advisor, having been nominated in March of last year. Cho has also served as the South Korean Ambassador to the U.S.

This article was copyedited by Arthur Gregory Willers.

Kuksung Nam is a journalist for The Readable. She has extensively traversed the globe to cover the latest stories on the cyber threat landscape and has been producing in-depth stories on security and privacy by engaging with industry giants, foreign government officials and experts. Before joining The Readable, Kuksung reported on politics for one of South Korea’s top-five local newspapers, The Kyeongin Ilbo. Her journalistic skills and reportage earned her the coveted Journalists Association of Korea award in 2021 for her essay detailing exclusive stories about the misconduct of a former government official. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a testament to her linguistic capabilities.