Vice-Minister of Knowledge Economy
On 29 December, Park Young-june, an associate of President Lee Myung-bak and a familiar face in South Korea-Africa relations, hosted 13 African ambassadors at the Korea-Africa Round Table Meeting for Promoting Friendship. The forum aimed to kick-start business networks for Korea’s small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Some of Korea’s recent overtures have been dogged by controversy: the STX deal in Ghana has been plagued by transparency concerns, while Daewoo’s attempt to purchase swathes of Madagascan farmland in 2008 did not survive the toppling of President Marc Ravalomanana’s government the next year. Negotiations with Equatorial Guinea on the purchase of South Korean warships, as reported by Yonhap news agency, worry Malabo’s neighbours. Park seeks to allay such concerns by developing themes raised by President Lee at the 2010 G-20 summit: that South Korea, once beset by colonial forces and ravaged by war, is a model of a country reborn.
Park holds a bachelor’s degree in law (1984) and a master’s in economic policy (2004) from Korea University. He worked for Daewoo for over a decade before entering politics as an aide to Representative Lee Sang-deuk, the President’s elder brother and a leading figure in the Grand National Party. In 2005, Park became assistant to the younger Lee, who was then Mayor of Seoul. He led Lee’s transition committee after he won the presidency in 2007 and became Secretary for State Affairs, Planning and Coordination, an influential job that gave him a hand in personnel decisions. In 2009, he became Vice-Minister of Government Policy. In August 2010, Park moved to his the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, with oversight of trade and energy.