Woonsang Choi, a former diplomat who helped establish the first Korean Embassy in Washington, D.C., died peacefully on Sept. 5, after a long illness. He was 87.
Graduating summa cum laude from Seoul National University, Choi earned master’s degrees from Georgetown University and Harvard University, and was the first Korean national to receive a doctorate from Harvard Law School. In 1949, he helped to establish the first Korean Embassy in Washington, D.C., with former South Korean Prime Minister Chang Myon. He served as Vice Consul in charge of the Korean Consulate in Los Angeles from 1951 to 1953 and at the Republic of Korea’s Mission to the United Nations from 1963 to 1967. He was also Korean Ambassador to India (1967-1972), Egypt (1972-1974), Morocco (1974-1976), and Jamaica and the Caribbean (1977-1981).
In 1954, during the Geneva Conference on Korean Unification, he was chief of the first section (legal and policy) of the Bureau of Political Affairs at South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1969, South Korean President Park Chung-hee conferred upon him the Order of Diplomatic Service Merit, Gwangha Medal. After retirement, he taught international law at Yonsei University, Kyung Hee University and Tokyo International University. He also served as foreign affairs advisor to former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and published several books on Korean history and international law.
He is survived by his wife, Inyung Kim Choi of Keller, Texas; children Veronica Krath of Keller, Texas; Irena Choi Stern of Bronxville, N.Y.; Peter Choi of Los Angeles; Monica Choi of Los Angeles; Anna Choi of North Andover, Mass.; Michael Choi of Maplewood, N.J.; sister Joanna Choi Kalbus of Redlands, Calif.; 13 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held Dec. 8 at 9 a.m. at Little Church of the Flowers, Forest Lawn Memorial Park, 1712 South Glendale Avenue, Glendale, Calif.