Biographical Note


17 September 2001


NEW YORK, 12 September (UN Headquarters) -- Han Seung-soo, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea, was today elected President of the fifty-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr. Han is also a member of his country's National Assembly, to which he was first elected in 1988. From 1996 to 1997, he was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economy. He served as Chief of Staff to the President from 1994 to 1995. In 1993 and 1994, he was the Ambassador to the United States and, concurrently, Chairman of the Council of the Republic of Korea Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

As Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economy, Mr. Han was the chief economic policy maker. He oversaw negotiations for the accession of the country to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1996, and he initiated and actively promoted the legislation of the incentive stock option system and the technology-based KOSDAQ stock market.

During his tenure as Chief of Staff, Mr. Han assisted the President in carrying out reform programmes in all fields of national policy. It was during that time that local elections took placed in the country, restoring local autonomy for the first time in 35 years. It was also during this period that the first offer of economic assistance, on a humanitarian basis, was made to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the form of rice.

While Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Han was heavily involved in the resolution of Democratic People's Republic of Korea nuclear issues, including the so-called nuclear crisis in 1993. As Minister of Trade and Industry, he was instrumental in the Super 301 negotiations with the United States that helped launch his country on a path towards a new trade relationship with that and other countries.

In 1989, Mr. Han was one of the initiators of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a forum now held annually among Asia-Pacific countries to discuss ways to promote economic cooperation in the region. He initiated the Taejon International Exposition in 1993, which was the first expo to be held in a country not yet fully industrialized. He founded the Korea Academy of Industrial Technology in 1989, aimed at expanding the technological basis of small and medium-sized businesses.

From 1987 to 1988, he served as the first Chairman of the Korea Trade Commission and worked as a member of the Commission on Tax Reform, the Commission on Bank Reform and the Commission on Tariff Reform, all set up by the Ministry of Finance during the 1980s. He served as President of the Korea International Economic Association from 1983 to 1984.

Before joining the Government, Mr. Han was an adviser to several public and private sector organizations, including the Bank of Korea, the Korea Export-Import Bank, the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Federation of Korea Industries. He was a consultant to the World Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), a financial adviser to the Government of Jordan from 1974 to 1976.

Prior to his election to the National Assembly, Mr. Han was a professor of economics at Seoul National University (1970–1988). He taught economics at the University of York, United Kingdom (1965–1968), and at the Department of Applied Economics, University of Cambridge, and the Emmanuel College, Cambridge (1968–1970). He was a Senior Fulbright Scholar at the Department of Economics, Harvard University (1985–1986), and a visiting Professor at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo (1986–1987).

Mr. Han was educated at Yonsei University and Seoul National University, and obtained his doctorate in economics from the University of York in 1968. He was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of the University in 1997. He is a laureate of the sixth European Communities Prize, which he was awarded in 1971 for his doctoral thesis, "The Growth and Function of the European Budget". He was also a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of International Studies at Yonsei University in Seoul and Honorary Professor at the University of York.

Until his election today, he served as President of: Korea-Britain Society; Korea-UK Forum of the Future; and the Alumni Association of the Graduate School of Public Administration of Seoul National University. He is a member of several professional associations, including the Korean Economic Association and the Seoul Forum for International Affairs, and the Korean Council on Foreign Relations.

His publications include: "The Health of Nations" (Seoul Computer Press, 1985); and "Britain and the Common Market" (Cambridge University Press, 1971) (co-authored). Mr. Han has been decorated with the Order of Public Service Merit (First Class, Blue Stripes), and the Order of Industrial Merit (Bronze Tower), and Order of National Security Merit (Cheonsu Medal). He was also the first recipient of the Columbia Law School/Parker School Award for Distinguished International Service (1997).

Mr. Han is marred with two children.

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* Reissued for technical reasons.