South Korean businessman to lead Rotary into its 104th year
Dong Kurn Lee to become the first Korean to head Rotary International
(EVANSTON, Ill., USA, July 1, 2008) – Dong Kurn Lee, president of Bubang Co. Ltd in South Korea, took office on July 1 as president of Rotary International, a volunteer service organization with more than 1.2 million members in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.
Lee will target
childhood mortality as
his top area of focus.
“We will keep our minds firmly on our goal that is to save the lives of children,” Lee says. “Rotary will turn the dreams of a safe and happy childhood—a childhood that becomes a long and healthy life—into a reality because all of the world’s children, are our children.”
In addition to reducing childhood mortality, Lee is also dedicated to the global effort to eradicate polio, Rotary’s top priority. He has traveled around the world, including India, to immunize children against the crippling and potentially fatal disease which still threatens children in parts of Africa and South Asia. Since the launch of Rotary’s PolioPlus program in 1985, Rotary members have helped to immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries. As the lead private sector contributor and volunteer arm of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative – a public/private partnership spearheaded by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF – Rotary has contributed US$700 million and countless volunteer hours to the cause.
Rotary’s recent funding agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide another US$200 million toward ending polio over the next three years - another milestone in Rotary’s 20-year legacy of polio eradication work.
Lee will emphasize three other major humanitarian issues: literacy, hunger relief, and clean water. During his one-year term, Lee will encourage Rotary clubs around the world to partner with local governments and non-governmental organizations to initiate projects that improve literacy rates and provide sustainable sources of food and clean water to communities in developing countries.
A graduate of Yonsei University with a degree in political science and diplomacy, Lee currently serves as Trustee to the Busan College of Information Technology and has served as past president of both his high school and college alumni associations. He has served as a Trustee to the Bank of Seoul and honorary consul of Italy in Korea. In 2005, he was appointed as International Goodwill Ambassador by the President of the Republic of Korea.
Lee joined the Rotary Club of Seoul-Hangang in 1971 and has served Rotary International as board director and Rotary Foundation trustee. He was chairman of the Polio Eradication Private Sector Initiative in Korea.
Near the end of his term, Lee will host Rotary’s 2009 international convention, set for June 21-24 in Birmingham, UK. President Lee hopes that the convention will draw about 30,000 Rotary members from around the world.
Founded in Chicago in 1905, Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. Rotary’s global membership is approximately 1.2 million men and women who belong to more than 32,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.