French presidential candidate François Hollande, who emerged as the frontrunner in the first round of the vote, was captured on camera meeting with key advisers including a sharply-dressed Asian woman. Fleur Pellerin (39), whose Korean name is Kim Jong-sook, is the digital economy advisor for Hollande and a key confidante of the candidate. French media have singled her out as a top candidate for a Cabinet post if the Socialist Party candidate wins.
Pellerin was born in Seoul in 1973. She was found in the streets when she was just three or four days old and sent to an orphanage. Six months later she was adopted by a family in France. Her younger sister is also a Korean adoptee.
Her father was a technician who ran a small business, and her mother, who did not have much of an education, wanted her adopted daughter to succeed academically. "I studied very hard," Pellerin said. She passed her baccalaureate -- the equivalent to a high school diploma -- when she was just 16, two years sooner than most, and graduated from the prestigious ESSEC business school, Institut d'études politiques de Paris and École nationale d'administration.
While working for the state audit agency in 2002, she joined the Socialist Party as a speech writer. "I went into politics because I want to reform the inequalities caused by inheritance and social status," Pellerin said.
She said her past was both a source of pain and inspiration for her. "I was saddened by the knowledge that I had been abandoned, but I also realized that important things also happen by chance," like being adopted and finding a new family, she said. "That realization saved me from becoming obsessed with power and success."
She has one daughter from her first marriage and is now married to a civil servant. Pellerin said she never visited Korea. "It's too bad I don't have any Korean friends," she said. "I'm amazed by the economic and social development Korea has achieved and want to visit the country if I get the chance."
Asked about her long-term plans she said, "I'm not the kind of person who worries about the distant future, but I'd like to write a novel some time."