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Yu In-chon tapped to serve as culture minister for second time

Sept. 13, 2023 - 18:02 By Park Ga-young
Yu In-chon, who is nominated as the new culture, sports and tourism minister, talks to reporters during a press briefing held after the presidential office announced the nominees for ministers of defense, culture and gender equality at the presidential office in Seoul on Sept. 13, 2023. (Yonhap)

Yu In-chon, whose nomination as the new culture, sports and tourism minister was announced Wednesday, is no stranger to the position, having served the same post during the Lee Myung-bak administration.

This is the former actor's second official position in the Yoon Suk Yeol administration. His appointment as special presidential adviser for culture and sports in July had sparked speculation that he might soon be named the next culture minister, replacing Park Bo-gyoon.

Yu served as culture minister from July 2008 to January 2011, setting a record for the longest tenure in the post.

During his time as Lee's first culture minister, he oversaw the opening of the Seoul Branch of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and the construction of the National Museum of Korean History as well as the restructuring the system for supporting culture and the arts. Copyright law was also strengthened during his term.

Yu also found himself in hot water a number of times, even early on. He was recorded swearing at photo journalists during a parliamentary audit session on Oct. 24, 2008. He later issued an apology.

A National Intelligence Service investigation in 2017 found that a blacklist of 82 figures in the culture and entertainment circles had been created during the Lee administration.

In 2017, Yu told local media there was neither a blacklist nor a whitelist during his term.

After stepping down as culture minister, Yu continued to assist Lee as a special presidential adviser from July 2011 to February 2013. For seven months in 2012, he also led Seoul Arts Center.

Born on March 20, 1951, Yu earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees from Chung-Ang University. After debuting as an actor in 1973, he went on to appear in several popular TV drama series. Notably, he portrayed a character inspired by Lee Myung-bak in the hit TV drama series "Years of Ambition" that ran from 1990 to 1991.

Yu began his political career in 2004, serving as the CEO of Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture, a key organization under the Seoul Metropolitan Government responsible for shaping the city's cultural policies, during Lee Myung-bak's tenure as Seoul mayor.