So is the former oil boss up to the task? First there was no press. News emerged last week that the State Department wouldn't be allowing reps of State Department press corps onto Tillerson's plane, breaking with a long tradition in US worldwide diplomacy.
"There's a recognition that certain mechanisms, like the six-party talks, haven't really borne the fruit that we would have liked to have seen them bear over the years", State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner said at a regular briefing.
But if Tillerson's words were meant to put Pyongyang on notice, he quickly pivoted: "North Korea and its people need not fear the United States or their neighbours in the region who seek only to live in peace with North Korea".
Over that time, the USA had given North Korea a total of $1.35 billion in assistance "as an encouragement to take a different pathway", Tillerson said, but it had been met with continued weapons development.
SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, Mr. Tillerson, however, stressed that co-operation with Japan and South Korea was "critical". We'll have further discussions with Prime Minister Abe.
The secretive isolationist nation has continued its development of nuclear weapons despite sanctions and threats from the worldwide community. But he didn't provide details on how the Trump administration would address North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. China remains the North's most powerful ally.
There, the United States is now deploying a controversial missile interception system known as Thaad (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence), which could be halted by South Korea's next leader.
China is perhaps the last country with significant leverage over North Korea, which has ignored several rounds of UN-backed sanctions targeting its banned weapons program. One reporter asked if this decision was a move to exclude the diplomatic press corps (Toner said it wasn't) and whether the motivation was to have a "friendly" outlet aboard that presumably would provide more favorable coverage. He said the $1.35 billion (€1.25 billion) in U.S. aid given to the reclusive Stalinist state over the last two decades was "an encouragement to take a different pathway" but the strategy had failed.
But it makes the delicate negotiation with China that much harder.
China, which has been criticizing the deployment of the system, will be the last stop on the tour. Mr Tillerson seems to be continuing a long-standing U.S. policy of trying to persuade China to exert more pressure on Pyongyang.
As a result, trade disputes between Japan and the U. That's good news for China, which saw the TPP as an effort to contain its economic might, but means Japan needs to start over.
"I covered State for more than nine years".