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Former Bell Labs head abandons bid to become South Korea’s science minister

Posted on behalf of Soo Bin Park.

The nominee to be South Korea’s science and technology minister abruptly withdrew his candidacy on Monday, as President Park Geun-hye made an apology to the nation for the impasse in government affairs.

Jeong Kim, a 52-year-old Korean-American technology entrepreneur, had recently resigned from his position as president of Bell Labs, based in New Jersey, and was nominated to become the first chief of a newly reorganized agency, whose name loosely translates as  ‘ministry of future creation and science’.

“I left behind everything that I have built in the United States and returned home at last,”  Kim said at a news conference at the National Assembly in Seoul Monday morning. “But as I watched the confusion over the government reorganization bill, my dreams to devote everything to my motherland were also shattered,” he added.

Kim was looking into regaining his South Korean citizenship. As a former nuclear submarine officer in the US Navy and previous director of the external advisory board at the US Central Intelligence Agency, his nomination to a cabinet post in South Korea was highly unusual.

Park’s speech came shortly after Kim’s abrupt announcement. “It is truly sad that (Kim) offered to withdraw after feeling frustrated by the reality of our politics,” she said.

The new science and technology ministry was a cornerstone of Park’s campaign pledges, which aimed at achieving a creative economy boosted by scientific and technology innovations. But a dispute between the ruling and opposition parties over the transfer of broadcasting policies to a new ministry has left the new government stuck in limbo since Park’s inauguration on 25 February.


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