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Kathleen Stephens

Kathleen Stephens

2013–14 Koret Fellow in Korean Studies

Shorenstein APARC
Encina Hall Room C324
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-6055

(650) 724-6404 (voice)
(650) 723-6530 (fax)

Research Interests

Korean modern history and political development, US-Korea relations


Kathleen Stephens, former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, joins the Korean Studies Program (KSP) at Stanford University’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC) as the program’s 2013–14 Koret Fellow.

Ambassador Stephens' research interest focuses on Korea’s modern journey, with particular attention to South Korea’s political development, to the impact of cultural and social change on its politics, and to the role of the United States. In the winter quarter she will teach Issues in U.S.-Korea Relations, a Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS) course.

Ambassador Stephens recently completed thirty-five years as a career diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service. She was Acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in 2012, and U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, 2008 to 2011.

Ambassador Stephens has served in numerous posts in Washington, Asia, and Europe. From 2005 to 2007 she was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP). While Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR) from 2003 to 2005, she focused on post-conflict and stabilization issues in the Balkans. She was Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council during the Clinton Administration.

Ambassador Stephens’ overseas postings included service in China, Korea, Yogoslavia, Northern Ireland, Portugal, and Trinidad & Tobago.

Ambassador Stephens received the 2009 Presidential Meritorious Service Award. Other awards and recognition include the Korean government’s Sejong Cultural Prize (2013), and in 2011 the Pacific Century Institute’s Building Bridges Award, the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, and the Kwanghwa Medal of Diplomatic Merit from the Korean government. Her book, Reflections of an American Ambassador to Korea, based on her Korean-language blog, was published in 2010.

Ambassador Stephens graduated from Prescott College, and holds a master's degree from Harvard University, along with a honorary doctoral degrees from Chungnam National University and the University of Maryland. Ambassador Stephens studied at the University of Hong Kong. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in Korea in the 1970s.

The Koret Fellowship was established in 2008 through the generosity of the Koret Foundation to promote intellectual diversity and breadth in the KSP by bringing leading professionals in Asia and the United States to Stanford to study U.S.-Korea relations. The fellows conduct their own research on the bilateral relationship, with an emphasis on contemporary relations, with the broad aim of fostering greater understanding and closer ties between the two countries.