Impact Player: Jeon Jei-guk
August 8, 2017
Who Is he?
On August 7, 2017, Jeon Jei-guk was appointed as the new minister of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) by Cheong Wa Dae.
Prior to his DAPA appointment, Jeon was a visiting professor at the Graduate School of Korea’s National Defense University and a Research Fellow for the Korean Institute for Defense Analysis (KIDA). Jeon also brings ample government experience from serving in the Repubic of Korea (ROK) Ministry of National Defense from 1980 to 2009.
In 2008, Jeon was appointed as the Ministry of National Defense’s Deputy Defense Minister for Policy. Jeon’s appointment marked the first time a civilian was appointed to this high-level policy planning position. As Deputy Minister for Policy, Jeon led several South Korean delegations in key working-level bilateral security dialogues, such as the Security Policy Initiative (SPI) between 2008 and 2009. These preliminary working-level talks were instrumental in setting the foundation for the major Security Consultative Meeting (SCM). Jeon’s experience in these key dialogues dealt with major U.S.-ROK alliance issues, such as the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) of ROK troops from the U.S. to the ROK chain of command as well as U.S. base relocation to the South of the Han River.
Earlier in his government career, Jeon held positions with the Ministry of National Defense’s Planning Agency and the Defense Quality Assurance Agency. Cheong Wa Dae noted that Jeon brings a significant understanding and practice of arms and weapons systems and their role in planning defense policy.
Jeon earned a bachelor’s degree from Korea University and a doctorate degree from the Ohio State University.
Why has he been in the news?
Jeon’s appointment to the top position for DAPA was one of several other key presidential vice ministerial appointments. Cheong Wa Dae also announced on August 7 three other vice-ministerial appointments including, Cho Jong-mook at the National Fire Agency, Kim Jong-jin at the Cultural Heritage Administration, and Park Ky-young at the Science Technology and Innovation Office of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.
What can we expect from him?
The media reports that Jeon’s appointment signals President Moon’s effort to address corruption in the South Korean defense industry.
According Cheong Wa Dae, Jeon is the most suitable candidate as he is both an experienced defense policy specialist as well as an expert on anti-corruption practices in defense industries. Moreover, Jeon’s academic knowledge and his long-term career within the Ministry of National Defense integrates excellent leadership and management skills as well as subject-area expertise that meets the Moon administration’s long-term objectives.
In his inaugural address on August 8, Jeon reaffirmed media evaluations. He stated “defense project reform has become a task in the dimension of the nation’s survival.” He went on to say that DAPA will concentrate its focus in supporting South Korea’s aim to establish a “three axis” platform to deter North Korean military aggression.
Photo credit: KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images