President Yoon Suk Yeol named the heads of the upgraded Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs and new agency in charge of overseas Koreans on Friday.
Park Min-shik, current veterans minister and a former prosecutor, will continue to lead the newly elevated ministry, said the presidential office.
Park is a graduate of Seoul National University’s international relations department who passed the Foreign Service Exam in 1988. He served in the Foreign Ministry before passing the bar exam in 1993 and went on to serve in posts including chief prosecutor at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office’s special investigation division. He later served as a lawmaker and lawyer before being tapped as Yoon’s first veterans minister in May 2022.
Lee Key-cheol, a former deputy foreign minister for overseas Koreans, will become the inaugural chief of the new agency tasked with supporting overseas Koreans.
Lee, a career diplomat, previously served as ambassador to the Netherlands and consul general in Los Angeles. He is currently the executive director of the Korean Committee for Unicef.
In March, Yoon signed a bill promulgating a revision to the Government Organization Act which enabled the upgrading of the Veterans Ministry, which previously held a sub-ministry status, to a full-fledged ministry.
The bill also approved the creation of a new agency in charge of affairs related to overseas Koreans as a sub-ministry under the Foreign Ministry. This agency, in keeping with Yoon’s campaign pledge, will be charged with succeeding the tasks of the Foreign Ministry’s Overseas Koreans policy department and the Overseas Koreans Foundation. It is expected to provide integrated services in areas such as visas, taxes and pensions, helping to oversee some 7.5 million Koreans abroad.
The Veterans Ministry will be formally be upgraded and the new overseas Koreans agency launched next Monday. Park and Lee’s terms will begin the same day.
Yoon also kept current Vice Veterans Minister Yoon Jong-jin to serve as vice minister of the upgraded Veterans Ministry.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]