[Newsmaker] Poet, teacher-activist tapped to head Culture Ministry

By Korea Herald
  • Published : May 30, 2017 - 14:44
  • Updated : May 30, 2017 - 20:38
President Moon Jae-in’s pick for the first culture minister of his administration, Rep. Do Jong-hwan of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, has had a diverse career.

By training, Do is a Korean language teacher with a doctorate in Korean literature from Chungnam National University. Do, whose name has been linked to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism for sometime, began his career as a teacher in the 1980s.

Rep. Do Jong-hwan of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (Yonhap)

However, his teaching career was cut short in 1989 when he was fired for his involvement in the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union. He then spent 10 years working for the union, before returning to teaching in 1998.

Do’s apparent tendency to take action appears to have surfaced much earlier. According to Do’s accounts published in an essay, he was part of the Army units sent to Gwangju in 1980 to suppress the democratic movement, but he loaded a round backward to prevent his firearm from firing.

Do has a relatively short political career, having started his second term in the National Assembly last year. However, Do has been a familiar name to Koreans for over three decades, having published a best-selling poem collection in 1984. His poems in the collection are said to be based on his experiences leading to his wife’s death.

By Choi He-suk (