Building Trade Ties with South Korea’s Emerging Female Leaders

Emerging Female Leaders

Over the past 15 years, the Republic of Korea has been on the forefront of negotiating free trade agreements with partners in all regions of the world. Yet the professionals tasked with negotiating these deals have been largely male. This trend is changing as highly educated and qualified women are entering government service and related private sector jobs at increasing rates. Within this context, new opportunities are emerging for women to enter and excel in this profession, as evidenced by the recent appointment of Minister Yoo as the new Korean Trade Minister. However, as Korean women enter these ranks, they have few female role models and mentors to offer advice and support their career growth and success.

In light of this, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) has launched this initiative, sponsored by the Korea Foundation, to engage in the capacity building and professional development of the next generation of female trade negotiators and experts from the Republic of Korea.

About the Emerging Female Leaders Program

The Emerging Female Leaders program offers the opportunity for women in professional roles from the Republic of Korea with interest and experience in international trade to participate in an intensive 10-day long program in the United States, with workshops, briefings, and capacity-building exercises to Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco. The program will tentatively take place from September 30th to October 8th, and will include meetings with current and former U.S. government officials, senior and emerging female business leaders, trade experts, and other speakers.

The program will focus on developing skills and competencies for trade negotiations and working in the trade field more broadly, deepening understanding of trade negotiations and the formation of trade policy, and providing mentorship and guidance for women empowerment in the workplace. Sessions will cover a range of relevant topics, including:

  • Understanding the trade negotiating process
  • Gaining negotiating skills, including strategies and tactics, creative problem solving, and “getting to yes”
  • Working with the private sector, legislative, and other government ministries through trade policy consultations
  • Navigating the media and public perceptions of trade
  • Developing skills to advance in the work place and providing career development guidance

The program will cover travel and related expenses, including round-trip airfare from Seoul to the United States., travel within the U.S., lodging, local transport, and meals during sessions.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Age: Under the age of 40 (to be eligible for the inaugural cohort of Emerging Female Leaders, candidate must be born on or after 1 June 1979)
  • Country: Citizen of the Republic of Korea required, based in Korea preferred.
  • Language Skills: Fluent in spoken and written English
  • Professional Experience: Academic background and some work experience in trade-related field. Relevant fields include:
    • Government agencies involved in the formation of trade policy
    • Private sector and businesses engaged in international trade
    • Legal professions, particularly related to trade law
    • Other relevant trade backgrounds
  • Career Path: Strong interest and intent in continuing to pursue a career in trade.

Application Timeline

  • Application window opens on April 8, 2019.
  • Deadline for Application submissions will be May 15, 2019.
  • Candidates will be selected and notified by June 30, 2019.
  • Program will tentatively take place Sept 30 – Oct 8, 2019.

Please note this timeline is subject to change.

Application Process and Materials

Applications should be sent by email to with the subject line “Korea’s Emerging Female Leaders Application.”

Applications should include the following:

  • Curriculum Vitae or Resume
  • Statement of Interest: A brief (1 page) explanation of why the applicant is interested in the program, what they hope to gain from participation, how they can contribute to the program, and how participation aligns with their career goals.
  • 1 Letter of Recommendation

For questions about the program and applications, please email

Korea Foundation
This project is made possible by a grant from the Korea Foundation