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Petraeus scandal: Jill Kelley's South Korean link

The Tampa socialite caught up in the Petraeus scandal received US State Department approval for her appointment as honorary Korean consul in Florida.

By Donald KirkCorrespondent / November 15, 2012

Jill Kelley leaves her home Tuesday, Nov 13, in Tampa, Fla. Kelley, identified as the woman who allegedly received harassing emails from Gen. David Petraeus' paramour, Paula Broadwell, received US State Department approval for her appointment as honorary Korean consul in Florida.

Chris O'Meara/AP

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Washington

Tampa socialite Jill Kelley had US State Department approval for her appointment as honorary Korean consul in Florida, says a South Korean foreign ministry official.

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The official, in Seoul, says the State Department put its imprimatur on her appointment after the Korean foreign ministry named her to the position in August. Ms. Kelley caught the eye of the former South Korean ambassador to the US, Han Duk-soo, who recommended her after returning to Seoul earlier this year.

“The process of appointing an honorary consul calls first of all for the recommendation of our embassy in Washington,” says the official, who said he was not the official foreign ministry spokesman and therefore requested that his name not be used. “Then the ministry will consider that proposal, and we will discuss the issue with the State Department.”

The official portrays Kelley as fitting the ideal for an honorary consul. “She’s a very social person, very active in the social scene.”

The role of the State Department in Kelley’s appointment clarifies State Department denials of any formal link to her before her name emerged in the scandal surrounding retired Gen. David Petraeus.

Korean officials indicate that approval by the State Department is basically a formality. State Department officials say they’re still looking into the technicalities of approval of anyone proposed by a foreign government to serve as an honorary consul.

The South Korean media emblazoned pictures of her outside her Tampa home as word spread that she had contacted the FBI about e-mails traced to Paula Broadwell, whose affair with General Petraeus forced him to resign as CIA director.

The role of Kelley, a 37-year-old mother of three married to a Tampa surgeon, raises questions about how she managed to cloak herself in diplomatic respectability.

As an aggressive hostess with high-level military contacts, she reportedly made an indelible impression on Mr. Han before he returned to Seoul early this year to become president of the powerful Korea International Trade Association. He saw her as an influential go-between as Korea and the US expanded economic ties after approval of the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement.

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