Lee Joon-sik, a former professor at Seoul National University’s School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, was appointed to be the new education minister and deputy prime minister for social affairs.
As an expert in mechanical engineering, he started teaching at his Alma mater, SNU, in 1985, and took various positions at the school including vice president of research, dean of research affairs and director of the micro thermal system research center.
The 63-year-old educator and researcher is well-known for his work in heat transfer related to computers and semiconductors.
He is currently a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Science and Technology.
Lee received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Seoul National University, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. The Busan native also has a reputation for being a peacemaker and a communicator, which observers are expecting may play a part in the addressing the standoff over key education policies between the conservative government and largely progressive local education offices.
If his appointment is finalized, he will replace outgoing Minister Hwang Woo-yea, a five-time lawmaker for ruling Saenuri Party.
As one of country’s two deputy prime ministers, Lee will also be expected to coordinate policies related to culture, education and overall social affairs.