Lee Myung-bak served as the 17th President of the Republic of Korea from 2008 to 2013. Prior to being elected president, he was a business executive, a member of the National Assembly and Mayor of Seoul.
President Lee was born on December 19th 1941. His family is originally from Pohang, a port city in southeastern Korea. He graduated from Korea University, majoring in business management. During his university days, he led a student democracy movement and was subsequently jailed for his activities by the authoritarian government at the time.
President Lee joined Hyundai Construction in 1965 and twelve years later became its youngest-ever CEO. During his time at Hyundai, he was involved in the construction of Korea's first highway, the building of Seoul's first modern apartment buildings and the production of Korea's first automobile which all became the foundation of Hyundai Motors, Hyundai Heavy Industry and Hyundai Shipbuilding. Today, Hyundai is one of Korea's largest companies and its brand is recognized throughout the global market; many of its companies are world-class leaders in its respective fields.
Some of the notable projects by Hyundai Construction under his leadership include the Arabian Repair Shipyard and the Jubail Industrial Port (both in Iraq) between 1976~1980, which was the largest single construction project undertaken by a construction company at the time. Later, he also built Malaysia's Penang Bridge, the second longest bridge at the time.
After a successful career as a business executive, President Lee retired from Hyundai in 1992 and entered politics. He was elected as a member of the National Assembly for two consecutive terms. Afterwards, he ran for Mayor of Seoul and was elected in 2002 and served until 2006.
While Mayor of Seoul, Lee restored Cheonggyecheon, a 6.5 km stream that ran through the center of Seoul, hidden under concrete and largely ignored for many decades. The stream was the primary source of traffic congestion in one of the world's most densely populated metropolis and also an environmental hazard. The restoration project has been hailed as a model for big-city ecological restoration and was recognized with a prestigious award during the 2004 Venice Biennale. TIME magazine named President Lee as one of the Heroes of the Environment in 2007.
When President Lee was elected president on December 19th 2007, he set a record in modern Korean political history by winning in all voting categories – region, age group and income level. The difference in the number of votes with the runner-up was 5.28 million, the largest margin in modern Korean electoral history.
After becoming President, he laid out a new vision called "Low Carbon Green Growth" which seeks to preserve the environment while achieving sustainable development. It is Korea's answer to today's global challenge. To this end, the Republic of Korea became the first country to pass the "Basic Law on Green Growth" and established the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) that is spearheading the global fight to present realistic solutions to a greener, sustainable future.
Another vision of President Lee was to make Korea a country that plays a more active role in bringing peace and prosperity to the international community. To this end, the Republic of Korea is also contributing to tackling the many global challenges that we face today, such as combating climate change, eradicating poverty, maintaining peace and achieving sustainable development. As the host of the G20 Summit in 2010 and the second Nuclear Security Summit in 2012, President Lee and the Republic of Korea was committed to working with others to ensure a more prosperous, more secure world for the next generation.
He is married to Kim Yoon-ok, and they have three daughters and one son and six grandchildren.