Chung Sye-kyun (Korean정세균; Hanja丁世均; born 5 November[1] 1950) is a South Korean politician, former Speaker of the National Assembly, and the current Prime Minister of South Korea.

Chung Sye-kyun
Chung Sye-kyun.jpg
42nd Prime Minister of South Korea
Assumed office
14 January 2020
PresidentMoon Jae-in
Preceded byLee Nak-yeon
Speaker of the National Assembly
In office
9 June 2016 – 29 May 2018
PresidentPark Geun-hye
Hwang Kyo-ahn (Acting)
Moon Jae-in
DeputyShim Jae-cheol
Park Joo-sun
Preceded byChung Eui-hwa
Succeeded byMoon Hee-sang
Member of the National Assembly
Assumed office
30 May 1996
ConstituencyJinanMujuJangsu (1996–2004)
Jinan–Muju–Jangsu–Imsil (2004–2012)
Jongno (2012–present)
Chairman of the Democratic Party
In office
7 July 2008 – 2 August 2010
Preceded bySohn Hak-kyu and
Park Sang-chun
Succeeded byPark Jie-won (acting)
Chairman of the Uri Party
In office
14 February 2007 – 20 August 2007
Preceded byKim Geun-tae
Succeeded byParty dissolved
Minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy
In office
10 February 2006 – 1 March 2007
PresidentRoh Moo-hyun
Preceded byLee Hee-beom
Succeeded byKim Young-joo
Personal details
Born (1950-11-05) 5 November 1950 (age 69), 26 September 1950 of the lunisolar calendar[1]
Jinan, North Jeolla, South Korea
CitizenshipSouth Korean
Political partyDemocratic Party of Korea (−2016, 2018–)
Other political
Independent (2016–2018)
as Speaker of the National Assembly, as required by law.
Spouse(s)Choi Hye-kyung
ResidenceJongno, Seoul
Alma materKorea University
New York University
Pepperdine University
Kyung Hee University (Ph.D.)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationJeong Segyun
McCune–ReischauerChŏng Segyun

He was previously leader of the main opposition Democratic Party between 2008 and 2010, and twice chairman of its predecessor, the Uri Party, first on an interim basis from October 2005 to January 2006 and then fully from February 2007 until the Uri Party's dissolution in August of that year.

On 9 June 2016, he was elected to a two-year term as the Speaker of the National Assembly. Upon becoming the Speaker, following the law that the Speaker cannot be a member of a party, he left the Democratic Party of Korea. His membership of the party will be restored automatically when his term as Speaker expires on 29 May 2018.

Early life and educationEdit

Chung was born in the village of Donghyang [ko] in Jinan, North Jeolla. From 1966 to 1969 he studied at Jeonju Shinheung High School [ko] in Jeonju, where he was a student reporter and served as chairman of the student council.[2] As an undergraduate he studied law at Korea University, and became chairman of the student union there, graduating in 1974.[2] He was nominated as an alternate for a U.S. Asia-Pacific student leadership project in that year.[2] He received a master's degree from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University in 1983, an MBA from Pepperdine University in 1993, and a doctorate from Kyung Hee University in 2000.[3]

Political careerEdit

Chung entered the National Assembly in the 1996 parliamentary election as a member of the main liberal opposition National Congress for New Politics, representing his home county of Jinan, North Jeolla, in the Jinan–MujuJangsu constituency.

President Roh Moo-hyun appointed Chung the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy at the start of 2006.[4] As minister, Chung received U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman in Seoul,[5] and participated in the Five-Party Energy Ministerial held in Beijing on 16 December 2006, promoting energy efficiency and the development of clean energy technologies.[6]

Democratic Party leader (2008–10)Edit

At the Democratic Party national convention on 6 July 2008, Chung was elected leader of the party, defeating Choo Mi-ae, his closest competitor.[7]

In July 2009, Chung went on a six-day hunger strike to protest a series of media laws passed by the ruling Grand National Party. He resigned his assembly seat on 24 July alongside Chun Jung-bae, labeling the bills invalid and stating that passing legislation through "illegal voting and violence cannot be justified".[8][9] Some 70 Democratic lawmakers also handed letters of resignation to Chung,[8] and Chung announced that the party would begin a hundred-day campaign in the streets against the laws.[10] Chung and his fellow party members returned to the assembly on 27 August after a month of protests.[11]

Chung faced calls to resign as party leader after the Democratic Party underperformed in the 2010 by-elections, losing five of the eight seats being contested. He accepted the demands and resigned alongside the rest of the party leadership on 2 August taking responsibility for the defeat.[12]

Later legislative career (2010–present)Edit

In the 2012 parliamentary election, Chung moved from Jeolla to Seoul to contest Jongno, an important constituency encompassing the Dongdaemun and the presidential residence at the Blue House.[13] He defeated his Saenuri Party competitor Hong Sa-duk, a six-term assemblyman and leading supporter of Park Geun-hye.[13] Remaining in Jongno as a member of the Minjoo Party of Korea, four years later in the 2016 elections Chung successfully fended off a challenge from another Saenuri heavyweight, former Seoul mayor Oh Se-hoon, confounding opinion polls from before the vote that had suggested Oh would win.[14] Prior to the 2016 election, Chung had criticized the Minjoo leadership for failing to nominate enough women and minority candidates.[15] In December 2019, he was nominated the second prime minister of the Moon Jae-in's government.[16]


His nickname is the 'Bacteriaman (Baikinman, 세균맨)', so he received a Baikinman doll. Because his name, 세균 (世均, Sye-kyun or Segyun), is pronounced the same as 세균 (細菌, Segyun), which means bacteria.[17]


  1. ^ a b "충북일보가 만난 사람들 - ①정세균 국회의장". inews365 (in Korean). 29 December 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Asian and Pacific Student Leader Project 29". WikiLeaks. 21 August 1974. WikiLeaks cable: 1974SEOUL05472_b. Retrieved 17 April 2016. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ "서울 종로 더불어민주당 정세균". Focus News (in Korean). 14 April 2016. Archived from the original on 14 May 2016. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  4. ^ "Roh shuffles cabinet before election". The New York Times. 2 January 2006. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Secretary Bodman Tours LNG Powered City Bus in Seoul". U.S. Department of State. 13 December 2006. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  6. ^ "Wen Jiabao Meets with Heads of Delegations Attending the Five-Country Energy Ministers' Meeting". Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in San Francisco. 17 December 2006. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  7. ^ "Chung Sye-kyun Elected Chairman of Main Opposition Party". The Korea Times. 6 July 2008. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  8. ^ a b "DP leader quits parliamentary seat". The Korea Herald. 25 July 2009. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  9. ^ "South Korea's DP lawmakers have begun resigning in protest". The Hankyoreh. 25 July 2009. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  10. ^ "Opposition to Start 100-Day Street Campaign". The Korea Times. 24 July 2009. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Main Opposition Party Returns to Assembly". The Korea Times. 27 August 2009. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  12. ^ "DP enters new phase after leaders resign". Yonhap News. 3 August 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Magnates to fight key battle in Jongno". The Korea Herald. 22 March 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  14. ^ "Polling predictors reflect after missing the mark by a mile". Korea JoongAng Daily. 15 April 2016. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  15. ^ "Opposition leader hints at resignation amid nomination row". The Korea Times. 21 March 2016. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  16. ^ "Chung Sye-kyun Nominated as New Prime Minister, "The Economy, National Integration, and Communication with the Opposition"". The Kyunghyang Shinmun. 18 December 2019. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  17. ^ "정세균 국회의장 팬이 보낸 인형선물의 정체는?". YTN (in Korean). 21 June 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2020.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Chung Sye-kyun at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by
Chung Eui-hwa
Speaker of the National Assembly of South Korea
9 June 2016 – 29 May 2018
Succeeded by
Moon Hee-sang
Preceded by
Lee Nak-yeon
Prime Minister of South Korea
2020 – present