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(LEAD) (profile) Korean-American tech entrepreneur tapped for future creation and science minister

All Headlines 20:41 February 17, 2013

(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks from Kim, more information in paras 7-9)

SEOUL, Feb. 17 (Yonhap) -- Kim Jeong-hoon, tapped as the minister for the future creation and science ministry, is an icon of the American dream for South Koreans.

Born in 1960 in Seoul, Kim emigrated to the U.S. from South Korea with his parents at the age of 15. He completed undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering and computer science at Johns Hopkins University and earned his doctorate in three years in engineering from the University of Maryland.

Kim joined Lucent Technologies in 1998 when Lucent acquired Yurie Systems, Inc. for around US$1 billion, a tech equipment firm which he founded in 1992.

He left Lucent in 2002 to join the University of Maryland faculty. But Kim came back to Lucent in April 2005 as chief of the renowned Bell Labs, the research and development subsidiary of the French-owned Alcatel-Lucent.

It previously was a division of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T).

Park's nomination of the Korean-American businessman underscores her aim to create more jobs by combining scientific and technological developments with industry.

"I will do my utmost to ensure the ministry plays a central role in helping the nation continue its economic growth by creating new jobs through science and information-communication technology," Kim said in a statement released Sunday.

Officials close to him said the nominee recently regained his South Korean citizenship, a key requirement for government officials, including ministers.

The justice ministry later confirmed Kim regained his South Korean citizenship, but said he still needs to surrender his American citizenship to fully regain his citizenship here.

Under the government reorganization plan, the future creation and science ministry will take over a number of roles from other ministries as the main government branch in charge of science and technology as well as IT and communications issues.

These roles have so far been handled by many other agencies. Park has called for a "control tower" responsible for such matters.

The ministry will take over all or part of the duties of the education and science ministry, the National Science and Technology Commission, the knowledge economy ministry, the Korea Communications Commission, the public administration and home affairs ministry and the culture ministry.

Some critics say the new ministry will become a "mammoth ministry" because it will control many key tech industry policies.


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