South Korea's Lee Chae-sub, a specialist in IT convergence, was elected Friday as the head of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), becoming the first from the country to take one of the top seats at the organization.
Lee had competed with Ahmet Erdinc Cavusoglu from Turkey and Bilel Jamoussi from Tunisia. Lee, 54, received 87 votes among 169 member states that voted, exceeding the 85 required to be elected.
The ITU has 193 members.
The South Korean has been working in the IT and telecom standardization field for more than 20 years. He had run for the seat in 2006, but lost to Malcolm Johnson from Britain, who was re-elected to head the bureau, referred to as the ITU-T, four years ago.
This marks the first time for Asian countries to take two of the top five seats at the ITU, which will celebrate its 150th anniversary next year. China's Zhao Houlin, the incumbent deputy at the union, was elected secretary-general on Friday.
"I thank all of you for electing me as the new director of the ITU, giving your trust and confidence to me in directing one of the most important functions in ITU, ITU-T, for the next four years,"
Lee said shortly after the announcement.
Noting that the bureau will mark its 60th anniversary in 2016, Lee said it "has remarkably contributed to building today's information society."
"In Asia, 60 years means accomplishing one big cycle in one's life, and starting a new cycle again," he said.
South Korea, welcoming Lee's election, pledged full commitment to the ITU.
"Since Korea joined the ITU in 1952, it has been achieving remarkable growth in the global ICT sector. I believe such growth has been possible thanks to the all-out support by the ITU and the international community," the country's ICT minister Choi Yang-hee said.
"The Korean government, along with Dr. Lee, promises to contribute to the ITU and the ICT sector worldwide," he added.
The bureau aims to set standards in the global ICT industry and "assemble experts from around the world to develop international standards known as ITU-T Recommendations, which act as defining elements in the global infrastructure of the area," according to the ITU.
Lee earned a master's degree in electronic engineering at South Korea's Konkuk University and received a Ph.D. in multimedia engineering at the country's Hanbat National University. He can speak English and French.
The director-elect started his career at KT Corp., South Korea's No. 1 fixed-line operator. Lee currently works as a researcher on IT convergence at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), and also serves as a senior adviser to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.
France's Francois Rancy, the only candidate for director of the Radiocommunication Bureau, won a second term. He graduated from Ecole Polytechnique in 1977 and Ecole Nationale Superieure des Telecommunications (Paris) in 1979.
"I would like to express my profound gratitude to all of you and governments you represent, in particular to the government of France, which proposed and supported my candidacy," Rancy said.
"You can be assured that I will devote all my strength and efforts to this mesmerizing task."
Brahima Sanou of Burkina Faso succeeded in being re-elected as director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau. He also was the sole candidate for the post.
He holds a degree in engineering from the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Telecommunications in Paris, and a post-graduate diploma from the Centre for Financial, Economic and Banking Studies.
South Korea is currently hosting the 19th ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, referred to as the PP-14, in the port city until Nov. 7. The conference is held every four years.
The ITU is an information and communications arm of the United Nations that sets technological standards, allocates radio frequencies and satellite orbits, and works to improve the quality of communications services. (Yonhap)