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[Newsmaker] IT expert named to Park’s key ministry

President Park Geun-hye chose a top communications technology expert as the new science minister nominee to fill the seat left by a controversial self-claimed patriot.

Professor Choi Mun-kee of top science university KAIST was named on Thursday to head the ministry of Future Planning and Science, which will be newly established under Park’s government reorganization plan.

By naming Choi, Park completed the nomination of 17 ministers. Presidential spokesman Yoon Chang-jung said Choi’s expertise was the main reason behind his nomination. 
Choi Mun-kee
Choi Mun-kee

Having served as the chief of the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute and professor at Information and Communications University, the IT expert was a founding member of Park’s think tank called the Institute for the Future of State when she was preparing to run for president.

Having majored in applied mathematics at Seoul National University, Choi earned his master’s in industrial engineering from KAIST and doctorate from North Carolina State University.

During his 21-year career at the state-funded ETRI, Choi led its research for telecommunication systems, broadband telecommunication, Internet technology as well as high-speed information and communication.

He was in charge of developing the Time Division Exchange, which helped Korea become the ninth country in the world to build its mobile telecommunication system with its own technology.

TDX became the basis for CDMA and WiBro technologies, which have played pivotal roles in Korea’s information and communications industry.

While serving as chief of ETRI, Choi had signed a preliminary deal with Bell Labs, of which earlier minister nominee Kim Jeong-hoon was president, in 2008.

ETRI and Bell Labs have conducted a joint research on ultra broadband convergence network technologies.

Kim Jeong-hoon withdrew his name early this month amid a parliamentary impasse over Park’s government reorganization proposal, saying the political deadlock shattered “(my) dream of giving my everything to my homeland.”

The opposition Democratic United Party is against the reorganization scheme under which the new ministry will take over some functions from the telecom and broadcast regulator Korea Communications Commission.

The 52-year-old tech entrepreneur had also been plagued by questions about whether he was fit for the job after having spent nearly four decades as a U.S. citizen and having worked with the CIA.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)
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