The Korea Herald


Ex-commerce minister nominated to lead PyeongChang Olympics organizing committee

By 안성미

Published : May 3, 2016 - 20:31

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Former Commerce Minister Lee Hee-beom has been nominated to lead preparations for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the event's organizers said Tuesday.

The PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) announced it listened to a wide range of opinions before tapping Lee to fill the vacancy at the top.

Commerce Minister Lee Hee-beom (Yonhap) Commerce Minister Lee Hee-beom (Yonhap)

Lee, 67, is in line to replace Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho, who resigned earlier Tuesday. Cho cited the need to tend to urgent matters at Hanjin Shipping, the nation's largest container carrier mired in debts.
Lee served as the commerce minister from 2003 to 2006, and after leaving bureaucracy, he worked as the head of the Korea Productivity Center and chancellor of Seoul National University of Science and Technology. Most recently, he served as an advisor for LG International Corp.
Also outside the government, Lee has been the head of the Korea International Trade Association and the Korea Employers Federation.

He was also the chairman of STX Heavy Industries Co. and STX Energy Co. from 2009 to 2013.
The POCOG said it valued Lee's wealth of experience across different fields.
"We expect his wide range of experience will help us with the final push for venue construction and Olympic operational preparations," the POCOG said in a statement. "As a former bureaucrat with expertise in economics, he will also contribute to a frugal Olympics through efficient execution and management of the budget."
The new chief organizer will be elected at a general congress of PyeongChang's organizing committee, whose date hasn't been set as of Tuesday.
Unlike his two predecessors, Lee brings no experience in sports administration. Kim Jin-sun, former governor of Gangwon Province, where PyeongChang is situated, had led PyeongChang's first two bids for the Winter Games before taking over the organizing committee.
Cho was the head of PyeongChang's third and successful bid and had also been vice president of the Korean Olympic Committee, head of the Korea Table Tennis Association and vice president of the Asian Table Tennis Union.

Lee's nomination appears to be aimed at bolstering sponsorships and marketing activities for PyeongChang. The POCOG said his considerable network of business leaders could come in handy as PyeongChang seeks to bring in more corporate sponsors with the Olympics less than two years away.
"His experience of having worked in the government and public corporations should help facilitate our communication with the central and regional governments and sponsors," the organizers added. "As he has done so in previous organizations, Lee will put his leadership to good use and contribute to the success of the Olympics." (Yonhap)