The nomination of Federation of Korean Industries Vice Chairman Lee Youn-ho as commerce, industry, and energy minister highlights the growing prominence of University of Wisconsin graduates in Korea.
The majority of the university’s graduates in Korea have made their mark in the presidential transition committee, politics, academia and economics. The school is especially known for producing excellent economics and chemical engineering majors.
According to the federation and the university’s economics alumni association, Lee received from the school his master’s in public administration in 1978 and a Ph.D. in economics in 1984.
Grand National Party lawmaker Choi Gyeong-hwan, the head of the second economics division of the transition committee, also received his doctorate from Wisconsin.
Another University of Wisconsin graduate is University of Incheon economics professor Cho Jeon-hyuk, a former consultant for the society, education, and culture division of the committee. He is seeking the GNP’s nomination to run in the April general elections.
Other figures with a Wisconsin economics doctorate include Kim Joo-hyung, director of LG Economic Research Institute; Park Tae-ho, president of the Graduate School of International Studies at Seoul National University; and Yu Seung-min, a GNP member.
Cho said, “Being Influenced by the Chicago School (of Economics), (the University of Wisconsin’s economics department) favors liberalism and the market economy, and shuns market interference from the government.”
Cho was replaced as president of the University of Wisconsin economics alumni association last year by Cho Dong-chul, head researcher for macro finance and economics at the Korea Development Institute.
GS Caltex Chairman Huh Dong-soo, dubbed “Mr. Oil” for his influence in the oil refinery industry, received his master’s and doctorate in chemical engineering from the school. When he studied there in the 1960s, the University of Wisconsin had one of the leading programs in chemical engineering.
Another Wisconsin alumnus, Sungshin Women’s University economics professor Kang Seok-hoon, said, “The University of Wisconsin has traditionally been competitive in econometrics, which values practical and corroborative data analysis.
Another Wisconsin grad said, “There are 82 Korean holders of Wisconsin Ph.D.s in economics, and the number is higher if those holding doctorates in other fields are included. We gather together at the end of every year.”