Sakong Il, chairman of the Korea International Trade Association and a potential candidate for the head of the IMF, has been the face of the Korean economy for internationals for years. Dr. Sakong is currently chairman of the Korea International Trade Association but he spent the last year in the limelight as head of the presidential committee that gathered the G-20 summit in November, one of South Korea’s biggest diplomatic events ever hosted.
Leading up to the event, Mr. Sakong lobbied the establishment of a secretariat for the G-20, providing an ad hoc group of offices and bureaucracies that would increase its influence on global financial institutions such as the IMF. So far, the G-20 countries have refused. Mr. Sakong was South Korea’s finance minister from 1987 to 1988, a the first president that was democratically elected. He went to the US in the early 1990s and wrote a study called “Korea in the World Economy” which helped solidify his reputation in Washington as one of the public faces of South Korea’s economy.
Dr. Sakong also noted that some of the IMF’s reforms, including increasing the vote quota of some under-represented economic forces, were approved at the Seoul G20 Summit in November of 2010.
However, a downside for Dr. Sakong is that he is 71 years old. The IMF rules say that a managing director should be younger than 65 when he starts his first term and must retire at the age of 70. The rules can be changed, of course. As a running candidate for the head of the IMF, Sakong VIP said he was honored to be considered as a candidate but said it would be too arrogant for him to say how he would propose to run the IMF.