New Minister Paik Un-gyu of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) has formalized the government’s policies to wean the country off nuclear and coal-fired power and expand new and renewable energies.
Minister Paik took office as the first MOTIE minister in the President Moon Jae-in government at the Sejong Government Complex on July 24. Paik worked for presidential candidate Moon’s campaign as an expert in new and renewable energy.
He served as a professor with the Department of Energy Engineering at Hanyang University before he was tapped as MOTIE minister-nominee. Paik also held such positions as technology counselor of Samsung SDI Corporate Research & Development Center, the executive director of the Research & Development Planning Center for Energy & Resources, technology counselor of Hynix Semiconductor, professor at the Division of Materials Science Engineering at Hanyang University and professor at the Department of Ceramic Engineering at Hanyang University.
Minister Paik, a graduate of the Department of Ceramic Engineering at Hanyang University, earned a Master of Engineering degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a doctorate at Clemson University.
Minister Paik called for a paradigm shift in the energy sector by weaning the country off nuclear and coal-fired power.
“Some people compare the economic feasibility of nuclear power and new/renewable energies on the basis of current technology levels, and this is a short-sighted perspective that does not consider future market and technology,” he said. “Now is the right time to embrace a change in the global energy paradigm to wean Korea off nuclear and coal-fired power and expand new and renewable energies, and this brings benefits in terms of the competitiveness of the future energy industry and the stabilizing of energy supply,” he added.
Minister Paik said his ministry will focus on reaching a social consensus on energy policies after fully discussing them with experts and the general public since they are closely related with the people’s lives.
As for trade, he emphasized that his ministry will proactively cope with global trade protectionist moves and strengthen strategic economic cooperation.
Paik said he himself would be responsible for strategic and comprehensive decision-making concerning trade, which is closely connected with the industry and energy sectors. The minister said he will delegate authorities to departments and let director-generals take responsibility.
Concerning the pending issue of the U.S. side’s call for the renegotiating of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA), he said his ministry will strive to maximize national interests and steadfastly deal with it under the principle of “balanced benefit.”
The MOTIE will focus on establishing a one-stop support system to cope with China’s retaliation for the installation of the self-defense U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in Korea and trade protectionist moves to ease the difficulties that have been imposed on Korean companies, he said. Paik said his ministry plans to ramp up strategic economic cooperation with emerging economies.
Paik pledged to make creating quality jobs one of the foremost policy tasks.
He called for the swift restructuring of mainstay industries, while aggressively exploring new industries, including eco-friendly smart cars, new energy industries, and intelligent robots to brace for the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The ministry plans to help SMEs and mid-size superstars expand exports so that exports and rising investments can lead to the creation of quality jobs while revamping policies on foreign investments and Korean companies returning home from foreign countries.