Korea Society president Thomas Byrne, retired General Walter "Skip" Sharp, former U.S. commander in Korea, and Kathleen Stephens, former U.S. ambassador to Korea and William J. Perry Distinguished Fellow in the Korea Program at Stanford's Shorenstein APARC, engage in discussion about the new U.S. president and political, economic and security options on Korea and East Asia.
Thomas J. Byrne joined The Korea Society as its president in 2015. He came to the Society from Moody's Investor Services, where he was Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Spokesperson, and Director of Analysis for the Sovereign Risk Group in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions. Before moving to Moody's in 1996, he was the Senior Economist of the Asia Department at the Institute of International Finance in Washington, D.C. Byrne holds a master’s degree in international relations with an emphasis on economics from the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies. Before his graduate work, he served in South Korea for three years as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer. He teaches a graduate-level course, Sovereign Risk, at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in Fall 2016.
General Walter “Skip” Sharp was commander of the United Nations Command, ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces in Korea from 2008 to 2011. He also commanded troops in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti and the Multinational Division (North) of the NATO-led Stabilization Force in Bosnia. He previously had four assignments at the Pentagon on the Joint Staff. He was the deputy director, J5 for Western Hemisphere/Global Transnational Issues; vice director, J8 for Force Structure, Resources, and Assessment; director for Strategic Plans and Policy, J5; and the director of the Joint Staff.
Born in Morgantown, West Virginia, while his father was fighting in the Korean War, General Sharp graduated from West Point in 1974 and was commissioned as an armor officer. He earned a master’s degree in operations research and system analysis from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is a graduate of the Army War College. He is consulting for and on the board of directors of several U.S. and Korean companies and The Korea Society. He is involved in Northeast Asia and especially Korea strategy and policy discussions at several think tanks in the Washington, D.C. area.
Kathleen Stephens, a former U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Korea, is the William J. Perry Distinguished Fellow in the Korea Program at Stanford’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. She has four decades of experience in Korean affairs, first as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Korea in the 1970s, and in ensuing decades as a diplomat and as U.S. ambassador in Seoul. She came to Stanford previously as the 2013-14 Koret Fellow after 35 years as a foreign service officer in the U.S. Department of State.
Stephens' diplomatic career includes chargé d’affaires to India in 2014; acting under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs in 2012; U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Korea from 2008 to 2011; principal deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs from 2005 to 2007; and deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs from 2003 to 2005.