Rotarian becomes South Korea’s new president
South Korea's new president, Myung-bak Lee, center, with Rotarians Woo Joo Chang, left, and Jae Yu Paeng, right, at an event celebrating his victory. Photo courtesy of Woo Joo Chang
A Rotarian has risen to the top position in the South Korean government.
Myung-bak Lee, of the Rotary Club of Seoul Samchung, Seoul, won a landslide victory in December to become the country’s 17th president. RI President-elect Dong Kurn Lee attended the inauguration festivities on 25 February.
“We hope that the objective of Rotary to encourage and foster the ideal of service will help you administer the affairs of the nation,” the RI president-elect said in a video message shown at a District 3650 celebration in January. More than 700 Rotarians attended the event, which was held in the new president’s honor.
The president responded: “I am most appreciative for what the Rotary Club of Seoul Samchung and fellow Rotarians did. I will make an effort to reflect honor upon Rotary.”
Lee became involved with Rotary in 1994, after expressing an interest in charity work to his friend and colleague Woo Joo Chang, a member of the Rotary Club of Hanyang. From 1995 to 1996, Lee served as charter president of the Seoul Samchung club.
“The club set a good example of Service Above Self by working with orphanages, showing concern for the elderly, and offering scholarships to college students,” said Chang. He added that Lee has been “a model Rotarian,” attending as many club meetings as possible, even while serving as mayor of Seoul from 2002 to 2006.
Though Lee will be unable to remain involved in Rotary activities because of his busy schedule, Chang says Rotarians are excited about his presidency.
Several other South Korean Rotarians have served as high-level officials, including former prime ministers Chung Yul Kim, Duck Woo Nam, Choong Hoon Park, and Chang Soon Yoo, all members of the Hanyang club.
Lee also joins the ranks of Rotarians around the world who have led their countries, including Foreign Minister Bhichai Rattakul of Thailand, Prime Minister Antoine Pinay of France, Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk of Czechoslovakia, and President Warren G. Harding of the United States.