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Miami alumnus elected premier of South Korea

10/01/2009

Prime Minister Un-Chan Chung
South Korea's newly elected prime minister is a highly regarded economist who earned a master's degree in economics from Miami University's Farmer School of Business in 1972. Un-Chan Chung has maintained his Miami connection ever since.

Chung was nominated for prime minister by Korea’s president, Lee Myung Bak, and confirmed by the National Assembly Sept. 29.

A friend of fellow Seoul resident and Miami alumnus Higgin Kim, Chung has been involved with Seoul’s Miami alumni chapter and has been a resource for the Farmer School’s Pacific Rim summer program for the last several years.

“He has given talks to our students about the future of the Korean economy and he has attended receptions in Seoul at which our program participants meet Miami alumni and business leaders,” said Sooun Lee, professor and director of the Farmer School’s Higgin Kim Asian Business Program.

On a trip to Seoul a few years ago, Farmer School dean Roger L. Jenkins met with Chung, who was then a professor at Seoul National University, Korea’s most prestigious and rigorous academic institution. The two men have kept in touch since.

Chung received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Seoul National University in 1970. After earning his master’s degree at Miami, he went on to Princeton University, which awarded him a doctorate in 1976.

During his academic career, Chung has taught at universities around the world, including the London School of Economics, Columbia University, the University of Hawaii, and the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. He has served in several faculty capacities at Seoul National University, becoming the dean of the College of Social Sciences in February 2002, and the university president six months later. In July 2006 he returned to teaching.

In addition to being a renowned professor of economics, Chung has held senior positions in government commissions and private research institutions. He has published many books and articles in his areas of specialty: money and financial markets, and macroeconomics.

Chung's appointment, part of President Lee’s government shakeup, is seen as an effort by Lee to carry out planned reforms and “pragmatic” policies.

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