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Founder of IFES

Founder of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) and longtime President of Kyungnam University, Jae Kyu Park has been for decades a pioneer in North Korean and unification studies, builder in academia, and peacebuilder on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.

Jae Kyu Park Photos



At a time when such was virtually impossible inside South Korea, the IFES of Kyungnam University 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 two decades of research and efforts, in 1998 Dr. Jae Kyu Park founded the University of North Korean Studies (UNKS) in Seoul, a graduate school dedicated to promoting a global understanding of North Korea, as well as providing expert knowledge on North Korea, 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 expertise 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 peacebuilding 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. He is also founder of the Northeast Asian Forum of University Presidents, an association that seeks to promote economic prosperity, enhance political democracy, and elevate human rights in Northeast Asia.

Currently, Dr. Park is President of Kyungnam University.