Ban Ki-who? UN issues memo on name

The post of UN secretary general is not exactly a low-profile job.

But the world's top diplomat, Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, is struggling for name recognition more than a year after taking over from Kofi Annan. And his wife must be getting fed up with being called "Mrs Moon".

Senior UN officials have become so concerned that Mr Ban's chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, sent a memo to staff worldwide dealing with "the question of ensuring clarity and accuracy in the recognition of his name". The letter, dated 31 March, acknowledges that this is a matter of "some delicacy".

"This is not an unusual problem, but it remains a matter of some frustration, that despite the passage of a year and some months, there still remains some confusion on this score," staff were told. "Many world leaders, some of who are well acquainted with the secretary general, still use his first name mistakenly as his surname and address him wrongly as Mr Ki-moon or Mr Moon.

"I am sending this clarification to all of you to help avoid confusion and possible embarrassment both to the secretary general and to his various interlocutors. I would request that you disseminate this appropriately and discreetly among staff and public authorities and institutions informally."

A UN spokeswoman explained that a memo was first sent round about how to address Mr Ban after he took over as UN chief at the beginning of last year.

"Sometimes, you need a mid-term clarification," said the spokeswoman, Choi Soung-ah. That's Ms Choi in case you were wondering.