Philip Yun

Executive Director & COO
San Francisco, CA

Philip oversees the organization’s entire range of day-to-day activities, including grantmaking, communications, financial management and fundraising.  He is an experienced executive and former policymaker who has also worked extensively in academia, business, international diplomacy, nonprofits and government.

Prior to joining Ploughshares Fund, he was a vice president at The Asia Foundation (2005-2011), a Pantech Scholar in Korean Studies at Stanford University (2004-2005) and worked at the U.S. Department of State (1994-2001). He was part of a U.S. delegation that travelled to North Korea with Secretary of State Madeline Albright in October 2000, and was a member of a U.S. government working group that managed U.S. policy and negotiations on North Korea under President Clinton. Mr. Yun also served as senior advisor to the first U.S. Coordinator for North Korea Policy, former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. His writings and commentary have appeared on The Hill, Foreign, AP TV, Fox News, CNN, NBC and the Los Angeles Times, among others. He is the co-editor of a book entitled North Korea and Beyond (2006).

Prior to government service, Mr. Yun practiced law at the firms of Pillsbury Madison & Sutro in San Francisco and Garvey Schubert & Barer in Seattle. He also was a foreign legal consultant at the firm of Shin & Kim in Seoul, Korea and later a vice president at the private equity firm of H&Q Asia Pacific. In other lives, Mr. Yun was a national staffer on the Presidential campaigns of Vice President Walter Mondale, Governor Michael Dukakis, and then Governor Bill Clinton.

Mr. Yun attended Brown University (magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa) and the Columbia University School of Law. He was a Fulbright Scholar to Korea.  He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and member of the Board of Overseers for Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies.


Recent content

Last week’s announcement that the U.S.-South Korea nuclear cooperation agreement would be extended for two additional years dashes the hopes of those South Korean hawks who seek to make their country a nuclear weapons state, at least for the time being. Indeed, the prospect of a nuclear-armed South Korea was so alarming to some that The New York Times ten days earlier published an editorial that came out against a nuclear cooperation agreement that would allow South Korea to enrich uranium and reprocess U.S.-sourced fuel rods to separate plutonium. For many readers, this might have caused a double take when North Korea has been leading the headlines as the region’s nuclear problem. What’s going on?

Now that the 2012 elections are over and the results are in, the nation’s capital is getting back to the business of policymaking. And, certainly, it seems that policymakers are energized and ready to go. And so are we! 

I just returned from a week in Beijing. What a change. Scores of modern skyscrapers with international brand names and products emblazoned atop have sprung up where none existed as little as five years ago. Shining shopping malls are filled with the latest fashions and products.  Streets are choked with thousands of cars and buses where packs of bicycles and motorcycles once ruled.

Like a big ship, even a country ruled by dictator cannot turn on a dime. It takes time and careful planning to change direction. Is it possible that a course change may be happening in repressive North Korea under its new leader Kim Jong Un?

Everyone’s talking about North Korea’s missile launch this week. And sure, it’s a big deal, but it’s not the end of the world. Here’s some quick behind-the-news perspectives to help parse facts from fear-mongering.

Kim Jong Il has been dead eight weeks, and commentators are still treating his successor, Kim Jong Un, as if he’s the latest celebrity teen star. But there’s more at stake than speculation over the young Kim’s staying power.