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Charles Kartman '70

We Are Knox...

Charles Kartman '70


2009 Alumni Achievement Award Winner

Major: History

Charles Kartman has had a long and distinguished career in diplomacy and
international security, first with the U.S. Department of State, and then with
the multi-national effort to resolve North Korea's nuclear program -- one of today's most sensitive strategic impasses. He's brushed shoulders -- and shook the hands -- of many of the world's most interesting leaders. As Kartman recalls, "I met five American and four South American presidents, Emperor Hirohito, Kim Jong Il, Prime Ministers, Cabinet members, and parliamentarians beyond counting."

In his 26 years with the State Department, he served many roles, including U.S. special envoy for the Korean peace talks, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. Charles has received the State Department's highest honors, including several Superior Honor Awards, the James Clement Dunn Award for outstanding service, the Secretary's Distinguished Honor Award, and the Secretary's Distinguished Service Award. In 1998, he received the Institute for Corean-American Studies Liberty Award.

After retiring from the Department of State in 2001, Charles served as executive director of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization. Known as KEDO, the multi-national effort sought to freeze and ultimately dismantle North Korea's nuclear program, in exchange for alternate energy sources, including a multi-billion dollar supply of crude oil. He left KEDO in 2005, when North Korea terminated its negotiations with the organization.

Charles is recognized for his expertise on Northeast Asia, having earlier specialized on Japanese affairs, working as a political officer in the Embassy in Tokyo, Consul General in Sapporo, and twice in the office of Japanese Affairs at the Department of State. He has held a variety of other positions focused on Asia: in the department on politico-military Affairs; for the Under Secretary for Political Affairs; and on loan to the congress. Charles' work has provided him the opportunity meet five American and four South Korean presidents, Emperor Hirohito, Kim Jong Il, prime ministers, cabinet members, and parliamentarians beyond counting.

Most recently, Charles has been an adjunct senior research associate at Columbia University and a co-leader of the KEDO Oral History Project, a joint program of Columbia University and The Stanley Foundation.