Presumptive U.S. ambassador to South Korea dropped, new candidate sought

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is searching for a new candidate to be the ambassador to South Korea, after U.S. officials said Tuesday that its previous pick, Victor Cha, is no longer under consideration.

The Trump administration notified the South Korean government in December that Cha would be its envoy to Seoul, but weeks passed without a formal nomination.

Officials familiar with the decision said Tuesday that the Trump administration dropped him from consideration, though it remains unclear why. In an op-ed published Tuesday night in The Washington Post, Cha, who was a White House National Security Council expert on Asia during the George W. Bush administration, wrote that he differed with the Trump administration over how to handle North Korea.

Cha said he disagrees with the view of some in the Trump administration that the U.S. could use a so-called bloody nose strike, which is a targeted attack meant to send a message to Pyongyang without provoking all-out war. “The answer is not, as some Trump administration officials have suggested, a preventive military strike,” Cha wrote. He said such a strike wouldn’t persuade North Korea to reconsider its nuclear weapons program and would likely lead to wider warfare.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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