Lee Myung-bak

President of South Korea from 2008 to 2013

Lee Myung-bak (pronounced /ˌliː ˌmjɜŋˈbak/) Hangul: 이명박; born 19 December 1941) was President of South Korea from 2008 to 2013. He was the CEO of Hyundai Engineering and Construction. In 2002 Lee declared his candidacy for Seoul Mayor, and won the election. After he became president, he said, "I will give Seoul a complete makeover."[1] He was elected the President of South Korea on 19 December 2007. This was the same day as his birthday. It was also the same day he married his wife, Kim Yoon-ok. So, on their 37th wedding anniversary and his 67th birthday, Lee became President of South Korea.[1] He finished his service in February 2013. Lee has three daughters and one son.

Lee Myung-bak
Hangul: 이명박
Hanja: 李明博
Official portrait, 2008
10th President of South Korea
In office
25 February 2008 – 25 February 2013
Prime MinisterKim Hwang-sik
Preceded byRoh Moo-hyun
Succeeded byPark Geunhye
Mayor of Seoul
In office
1 July 2002 – 30 June 2006
Preceded byGoh Kun
Succeeded byOh Se-hoon
Personal details
Born (1941-12-19) 19 December 1941 (age 82)
Osaka, Japan
NationalitySouth Korean
Political partyGrand National Party
Spouse(s)Kim Yun-ok

Lee Myung-bak was born on December 19, 1941 in Japan. After the end of World War II in 1945, his family came back to his father's hometown Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea. Lee went to night school at Dongji Commercial High School.[2][3]

On March 26, 2010 an explosion destroyed the South Korean warship Cheonan.[4] This killed 40 men. Six men also disappeared. They are thought to be dead. An investigation into the sinking blamed North Korea. They said that a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine had sunk the ship.[4] North Korea said it had nothing to do with the Cheonan's sinking. They said they were not guilty. Lee said their denial was "laughable". He stopped all trade between the north and south.[4] He also asked the United Nations to help them against North Korea. He also began sending radio messages to North Korean people.

Lee Myung-bak is a Christian and goes to the Somang Presbyterian church. When he was a mayor, he once declared that Seoul was a "holy place governed by God".[5] He has been much criticized for his beliefs. Buddhist people protested that Lee was a threat to their religion.[6]

Lee has also been criticized for not giving enough political freedom to the people.[7] For example, the police limited demonstrations.[7] But Lee said, "I fully understand the protestors' point of view on the matter". He added, "Protesting culture has a deep root in democracy of Korea and despite the ongoing political upheaval of this country, the enthusiasm that the protesters showed is one side ... we embrace (approve) and this will ... be a positive (good) drive of Korea's development."[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Korea.net : The official website of the Republic of Korea". korea.net. Archived from the original on 11 June 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  2. "이명박, 가난·시련 떨친 '성공신화' CEO형 리더십 | 경향닷컴". khan.co.kr. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
  3. "뉴스타운 - 선진한국 바른언론 ▒ 뉴스타운의 역사는 대한민국 인터넷신문의 역사입니다". newstown.co.kr. Retrieved 3 June 2010.[permanent dead link]
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "BBC News - Setback for South Korea's president in local elections". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
  5. "Asia Times Online :: Korea News and Korean Business and Economy, Pyongyang News". atimes.com. Archived from the original on 10 January 2010. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  6. "President Embarrassed Over Angry Buddhists". koreatimes.co.kr. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "National Security Law". koreatimes.co.kr. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  8. "donga.com[뉴스]-李대통령 "시위대 입장 완벽히 이해하고 있다"". donga.com. Archived from the original on 28 July 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2010.

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