Distinguished Speaker Series – KEI Guest Speaker Bios



Yong Kwon
Director of Communications | Korea Economic Institute of America

Yong Kwon joined KEI as the Director of Communications in September 2018. He is responsible for KEI’s social media strategy and outreach to news agencies.

Yong comes to KEI from the consulting firm The Asia Group where he supported U.S. companies operating in the South Korean market. In addition to providing briefings on the political dynamics shaping KORUS negotiations, he directly assisted clients with their market entry and expansion campaigns. As part of this effort, he helped prepare a Houston-based energy company for off-take discussions with three of the largest players in South Korea’s petrochemical industry. More recently, he helped a trade group research and develop a messaging campaign around the need for greater transparency and investment in Korea’s public healthcare sector.

Prior to joining The Asia Group, Yong worked as a politics and business commentator. In addition to covering South Korea’s foreign policy for Asia Times Online, Yong served as the inaugural columnist for The Diplomat Magazine’s page on the Korean Peninsula.

Yong holds a MSc in Economic History from the London School of Economics where he focused on South Korea’s financial policies during the 1970s. He holds a BA in International Affairs from The George Washington University.

You can follow him on Twitter @ykwon88


Jihyun Lee
First Secretary | Embassy of Republic of Korea in the United States

Ms. Jihyun Lee is the First Secretary at the Embassy of Republic of Korea in Washington, DC.  She is in charge of public diplomacy, mainly focused on Korean government’s foreign policy including on North Korea, US-Korea alliance, and other key security issues.

Since joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2009, she has served in Peace Regime on the Korean Peninsula Division, South Asia and Pacific Bureau, and Foreign Press Division at Spokesperson’s Office. Most recently, she served in the North Korean Nuclear Negotiations Division, where she was in charge of bilateral consultations with the U.S. and ASEAN countries on dealing with North Korean nuclear issue and mapping out the strategy for the upcoming denuclearization negotiations.

Ms. Lee completed her Master’s program in International Relations at Columbia University and Public Policy at Hertie School of Governance (dual degree). She received her bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the Seoul National University.


Jennifer Steffensen
Foreign Affairs Officer | U.S. Department of State

Jennifer Steffensen is a Foreign Affairs Officer in the U.S. State Department’s Office of Korean Affairs, where she manages U.S.-South Korea economic issues.  Prior to joining the Korea desk, Jennifer worked in the State Department’s Office of International Communications and Information Policy, where she coordinated U.S. digital economy policy for the East Asia and Pacific region.  Jennifer joined the State Department as a Presidential Management Fellow, during which time she served at the U.S. Mission to UNESCO, the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, and the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the State Department.  Prior to joining government, Jennifer worked in broadcast journalism and media relations in Washington, D.C. and Beijing, China.  She is the co-author of Careers in International Affairs, 9th edition, published by Georgetown University Press.  Jennifer holds a M.S. in foreign service from Georgetown University and a B.A. in history from the College of William and Mary.