Chiefs of State and Heads of Government
Foreign Affairs
World Parliaments
Federated States and Provinces
Political Weekly Factbook
International Organizations


(Taehan-min'guk / Republic of Korea)


The government is formed by MD, JMY and non-partisans.

Kim Dae-Jung - President

Born : on December 3, 1925 on a small island off the southwestern tip of the peninsula

Education/Profession : Elementary School in Mokpo, the nearest port city on the mainland. He graduated from the Bukkyo school in 1939 and then entered the five-year Mokpo Commercial High School. After graduating from high school in 1943, he got a job at a shipping company, which qualified him for exemption from conscription into the Japanese Imperial Army. And when Korea was liberated at the end of the Second World War in 1945, he was quite a successful young businessman in the maritime transportation business. After the Korean War (1950-53), he continued in the shipping business and published a local newspaper.

Party : NCNP (National Congress for New Politics)

Political experience : In 1954, at the age of 29, he made his first bid to the legislature of the republic as an independent candidate but failed. After one more unsuccessful attempt, Kim Dae-jung was elected to the National Assembly in a by-election in 1961, but, within three days of his election, the Assembly was closed down by a military junta that toppled an elected government in a coup d'etat. In the general election in 1963, won a seat. After serving as the spokesman for the Democratic Party in 1965, he became chairman of the Policy Planning Committee the next year. In 1971, he became the presidential candidate of the New Democratic Party, pitted against Park Jeong-hui and garnered no less than 46 percent of the votes in spite of all kinds of illegal and corrupt electioneering by the ruling camp. The victory in the presidential election held on December 18, 1997 marked the first peaceful transfer of power from a ruling to an opposition party following national liberation in 1945.

Note : On March 1, 1976, he, along with other democratic figures, issued the "March First Declaration for Democratization," reigniting the pro-democracy movement. Subsequently, he was sentenced to five years in prison. When he was released in December 1978, he was placed under house arrest again. In November 1979, he was sentenced to death by a court martial. The sentence was subsequently commuted to life imprisonment and then to 20 years in prison. In December 1982, his prison term was suspended, and he went to the United States, his second period of foreign exile.

Lee Han Dong - Prime Minister

Born : December 5, 1934

Education/Profession : 1954 Kyungbok High School. 1958 B.A., College of Law, Seoul National University. 1958 Passed High Judicial Service Examination. 1959 Military Prosecutor (ROK Army). 1961 Staff Judge Advocate of the 5th Corps (ROK Army). 1963 Judge of the Seoul District Court. 1969 Prosecutor of the Seoul District Court (Prosecutor's Office and Legal Affairs Office of the Ministry of Justice). 1974 Prosecutor of the Seoul High Prosecutor's Office and Deputy Director of the Legal Affairs Training Institute of the Ministry of Justice. 1975 Senior Prosecutor of the Daejeon District Prosecutor's Office. 1977 Senior Prosecutor of the Special Investigations (Division of the Pusan District Prosecutor's Office). 1980 Senior Prosecutor of the 1st Special Investigations (Division and the 1st Criminal Affairs Division of the Seoul District Prosecutor's Office)

Political experience : 1981 Member of the 11th National Assembly. 1981 DJP (Democratic Justice Party) Deputy Floor Leader. 1982 Chief Secretary to the Party President. 1983 Chairman of the DJP Kyonggi Provincial Chapter. 1984 DJP Secretary General. 1985 Member of the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th National Assembly. 1988 Delegate to the Preparation Committee for the South and North Korea Parliamentary Talks. 1988 Minister of Home Affairs. 1993 DLP (Democratic Liberal Party) Floor Leader (Chairman of the Korea-EU Parliamentarian's Council). 1995 Vice Speaker of the National Assembly. 1997 Chief Executive Chairman of the New Korea Party. 1998 Vice President of the Grand National Party 2000 President of the United Liberal Democrats. 2000 Prime Minister


Han Kap-su - Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

Born :


Chon Yun-col - Minister of Budget and Planning

Born :

Chang Che-shik - Minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy

Born :

Education/Profession : Graduated from Seoul National University's Law School before passing the state exam for higher service. He also studied international taxation systems at Harvard University and earned his doctorate degree in economics at Choongang University.

Political experience : At the beginning of the year, Chang left the ruling Millennium Democratic Party with two other MDP members and joined the United Liberal Democrats (ULD), allowing the latter to secure enough seats to form a negotiating block and regain its position as a ruling coalition partner. Served as deputy head of the National Tax Administration, president of the Housing & Commercial Bank, chief policymaker for the ruling MDP, and a chairman of the budget and accounts committee in the Assembly.


Oh Jang-seop - Minister of Construction and Transportation

Born : 1947

Education/Profession : Graduate of Hanyang University's engineering department, Oh is well-versed in the construction business, having previously served as head of a construction firm for five years.

Political experience : Member of the United Liberal Democrats (ULD). served the party as floor leader and secretary general and is credited with elevating the party to a parliamentary "negotiating body," a status giving it significant room for political maneuvering.

Kim Han-gil - Minister of Culture and Tourism

Born :

Kim Dong-shin - Minister of Defense

Born : 1941

Education/Profession : Graduate of the Korea Military Academy in 1965. Graduated from Seoul National University in 1969. Hailed from Kwangju, South Cholla Province, Kim studied at the Command and General Staff College and the Naval Postgraduate School, both in the United States, and the Royal College of Defense Studies in Britain. served as the Army chief of staff between March 1998 and October 1999. He speaks English well, and also served as vice commander-in-chief of the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) between October 1996 and March 1998.

Note : His expertise in military strategic planning and operations.

Wan-Sang Han - Minister of Education

Born : March. 18, 1936 Dangjin, Chungnam

Education/Profession : Received B.A. in Sociology Seoul National University, Korea (1955-1960). Completed course works for M.A. in sociology Seoul National University, Korea (1961-1962). Received M.A. in Sociology Emory University, USA (1962-1964). Received Ph. D. in Sociology Emory University, USA (1964-1967). Lecturer in Sociology Georgia State University (1966). Assistant Professor of Sociology Tennessee Technical University, USA (1967-1969). Professor of Sociology Seoul National University (1984-1993). Assistant Professor of Sociology East Carolina University, USA (1969-1970). Professor of Sociology Seoul National University (1970-1976 and 1984-1993). President Korea National Open University (1994-1998). Honorary doctoral degree in Liberal Arts Emory University, USA (1999).

Political experience : Koreans, Ministry of Education and Culture (1971-1974). Deputy Prime Minister National Unification Board (1993).

Kim Myong Ja - Minister of Environment

Born : July 13, 1944 Seoul

Education/Profession : 1959-1962 Kyunggi, Girls High School , Seoul. 1962-1966 B.S. in Chemistry, Seoul National University, Seoul. 1971 Ph.D. in Chemistry, University of Virginia, U.S. Visiting Researcher, College of Science at Tokyo University, Japan. Professor of Chemistry at Sookmyung Women's University (Dean of the College of Science). KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) commentator on science and technology. Advisor to the Presidential Council for Science and Technology

Political experience : Policy Advisor to the Environmental Forum of the National Assembly. Member of Environmental Conservation Steering Committee, Ministry of Environment Minister of Environment (since June 1999)

Note : Member of the Environment Committee of Korean National Council of Women. Member of the Korean Committee of UNESCO. Member of the Korean Academy of Science and Technology


Chin Nyom - Minister of Finance and Economy

Born :

Han Seung-soo - Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Born : 28 December 1936

Education/Profession : Feb. 1960 Graduated from the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea. Feb. 1963 Graduated from the Graduate School of Public Administration, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea (M.A. in Public Administration). May 1968 Studied at University of York, York, U.K. (D. Phil. in  Economics), D. Univ.(Hon.) (1997). Oct. 1970 - Dec. 1988 Professor of Economics, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea. Aug. 1985 - Aug. 1986 Fulbright Senior Scholar, Department of Economics, Harvard University, Boston, U.S.A. Sep. 1986 - Feb. 1987 Visiting Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Tokyo University, Tokyo, Japan

Political experience : Apr. 1988 - May 1992 Member of the 13th National Assembly. Dec. 1988 - Mar. 1990 Minister of Trade and Industry. Apr. 1993 - Dec. 1994 Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America. Dec. 1994 - Dec. 1995 Chief of Staff to the President. May 1996 - May 2000 Member of the 15th National Assembly. Aug. 1996 - Mar. 1997 Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economy. May 2000 - Member of the 16th National Assembly. Jul. 2000 -Chairman of the Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Group of the Republic of Korea. Oct. 2000 Vice-President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union's Study Committee on Economic and Social Questions Mar. 2001 - Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Lee Keun-sik - Minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs

Born : 1946 Kosong, South Kyongsang Province

Education/Profession : Graduate of Seoul National University, Lee is known among government officials for his careful work methods, as well as for his good relationship with other officials. Served as the head of local governments, such as the Koje county government and vice-governor of the South Kyongsang Provincial government. His major posts also include the civil affairs secretary at Chong Wa Dae and the chairman of the Government Employees Pension Corp., and the Korea Appraisal Board.

Millennium Democratic Party

Political experience : Started his career at the now-defunct Economic Planning Board, and worked at the home ministry, the prime minister's office, and Chong Wa Dae.

Won-Gil Kim - Minister of Health and Welfare

Born :

Yang Seung-taik - Minister of Information and Communication

Born : 1939

Political experience : Graduated from Seoul National University, majoring in engineering, in 1961 and obtained a doctor's degree at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in the United States in 1976. Played a leading role in elevating Korea into a leading position in the global mobile telecom sector by commercializing CDMA (code division multiple access) technology in 1992 whilst serving as president of the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI). Served as the president of Information and Communications University since 1998.

Kim Chung-kil - Minister of Justice

Born :

Kim Ho-jin - Minister of Labor Affairs

Born : April 20, 1939 in Andong, Gyungbook Province

Education/Profession : 1968 B.A. in Political Science, Korea University. 1974 M.A. in Public Administration, Seoul National University. 1979 M.A. & Ph.D in Political Science, University of Hawaii. 1981 Professor, Department of Public administration, Korea University. 1993.12 President, Korean Political Science Association. 1994.11 Dean, Graduate School of Labor Studies, Korea University.

Political experience : 1998. 6 Member of Special Committee for Political Reform, National Congress for New Politics. 1998.10 Member of standing Committee, the National Commission for Rebuilding Korea. 1999. 7 Chairman, Tripartite Commission. 2000. 8. 7 Ministry of Labor

Chung Woo-taik - Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Born : 1953

Education/Profession : Graduate of Sung Kyun Kwan University, passed the state exam for higher civil service in 1978 and later served on the Economic Planning Board. He taught economics at Chungbuk and Chungju universities 1993-1994 before entering politics.

Political experience : Elected to the National Assembly in 1995 after joining the United Liberal Democrats (ULD). Served as vice secretary-general, vice floor leader and top policymaker in the ULD.


Cho Song-tae - Minister of National Defense

Born :


Na Seung-po - Minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination

Born : 1940 in Hampyong

Education/Profession : Career administrative official, is known for his efficient policy decisions and strong drive. Served as the Hampyong County head, Yosu mayor, Mokpo mayor in South Cholla Province and the vice governor of South Cholla Province.

Political experience : Serving as director-general of the former Interior Ministry (now the Government Administration and Home Affairs Ministry), he worked hard to stimulate local economies. As vice governor of South Cholla Province for three years and 10 months from July 1995, he became the longest serving vice-governor in Korea.

Kim Young-hwan - Minister of Scienceand Technology

Born : in Guesan, North Chungchong Province, in 1955

Education/Profession : Graduated from Yonsei University, majoring in dentistry, and has three children. Dentist, opening his own clinic in 1988, and a poet, having published several volumes of poetry and essays since 1986.

Political experience : Imprisoned in 1997 for his involvement with the anti-government movement and has acted as a spokesman for workers' rights over many years. Since becoming a lawmaker in 1996, he has served in the science, technology and telecom committee in the 15th and 16th National Assembly. In December last year, Kim was recruited as spokesman for the ruling New Millennium Democratic Party.


Han Tok-Su - Minister of State for Trade

Born :


Lim Dong-Won - Unification Minister

Born : 1934 in North Pyongan Province

Political experience : Since President Kim took office in February 1998, he served as presidential advisor on foreign affairs and national security, unification minister, and National Intelligence Service chief.

Note : A retired two-star general, Lim also played a major role in the early 1990s, when the two Koreas concluded the landmark Basic Agreement on reconciliation, non-aggression, and exchanges and cooperation, during the prime ministers' talks.