WikiLeaks Cable Details Rise of Lee Myung-bak

      September 07, 2011 13:14

      WikiLeaks has disclosed a classified diplomatic cable showing that a miscommunication between former President Park Chung-hee and Chung Ju-yung, the late chairman of the Hyundai Group, contributed to the eventual rise of Lee Myung-bak from the ranks of the conglomerate to the presidential office.

      The massive cache of U.S. diplomatic cables WikiLeaks published last week shows that the American Embassy in Korea sent a report to the State Department on Feb. 2, 2007, 10 months before the last presidential elections. Entitled "Presidential Candidate Lee Myung-bak," it charts his life, business achievements and entry into politics. One section headlined "The Lucky Exchange," shows how a "miscommunication" between the former Hyundai chairman and ex-president Park led to Lee being hired by Hyundai Engineering and Construction and his rapid promotion within the company.

      According to the cable, Lee spent six months in prison after being arrested in a protest in 1964 against normalized ties between Seoul and Tokyo. Lee was a student at Korea University at the time. The prison stint made it difficult for Lee to land a job after graduation. That prompted the young jobseeker to write to Cheong Wa Dae saying a government that blocks the future of an individual owes that person a debt forever. That led to Lee's pardon and paved the way for his employment at Hyundai.

      At the time, Park wrote to Chung saying he should "look out for" Lee. But Chung misinterpreted the comment as being told to "take care of" Lee, according to the report.

      Lee eventually earned Chung's trust at Hyundai. When Chung asked Lee in a job interview what construction was about, Lee said it was about creating things. Chung later used the comment often in his speeches, according to the report.

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