When the two Koreas paraded under a united banner at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang earlier this month, there was one notable absentee at the event - the U.S. ambassador to South Korea.
The post is still vacant with Victor Cha’s expected appointment withdrawn by the Trump administration due to his outspoken opposition to a possible preventative strike on North Korea’s nuclear facilities.
The situation in the U.S. embassy in Seoul isn’t all that unusual with many of America’s most important diplomatic posts worldwide remaining unfilled.
According to the U.S. State Department, South Korea was one of 45 countries without a U.S. ambassador at the beginning of February. That list includes numerous high-profile countries and key U.S. allies such as Australia, Germany, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. That is surprising given how important an ambassador is in negotiating foreign policy at local level.
The reason for the trend goes back to Donald Trump’s inauguration when he fired all ambassadors politically appointed by his predecessor. Since then, the Trump administration has had trouble filling all of the empty posts.
Progress has been made since last year when China and India both lacked U.S. ambassadors, which meant that over half the world’s population didn’t have one. Nevertheless, the president still has a lot of appointments to make, judging by the following map.
This article and chart originally appeared on the blog of the data firm Statista, and is republished here with permission.