At a time when such was virtually impossible inside South Korea, IFES promoted and supported scholarly research on North Korea, providing related materials to academics and organizing conferences and seminars with the intent of promoting North Korean Studies as a type of area studies. On the basis of over two decades of research and efforts, in 1998, Dr. Park founded the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, a graduate school dedicated to promoting a global understanding of North Korea, as well as providing expert knowledge on the DPRK, inter-Korean relations, unification, and regional peace and security issues, among others. As experts on inter-Korean and unification issues, the university's graduates have gone on to work in various sectors of society, playing active and diverse roles in peacemaking and future unification processes on the Korean Peninsula.
Based on the recognition of his specialty and achievements, Dr. Park was asked to serve as the ROK Minister of Unification and Chairman of the National Security Council, posts which he held from 1999 to 2001. During his term in office at the ministry, Dr. Park was instrumental in organizing the landmark June 2000 inter-Korean summit, and headed the South Korean delegation to the South-North Ministerial-Level Talks.
Dr. Park has received numerous awards and honorary degrees over the years for his lifelong dedication and efforts toward not only peace building in Northeast Asia but also toward university cooperation and reform. As a specialist on inter-Korean affairs, he has spoken widely on peace and unification, as well as having published numerous books, articles, and columns on the subject.
Dr. Park is currently President of Kyungnam University. He is also founder of the Northeast Asia Forum of University Presidents.