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New NZ minister takes oath in English and Korean

Nov. 28, 2023 - 15:26 By Shin Ji-hye
Melissa Lee, the newly appointed minister for economic development, ethnic communities, media and communications (center), takes a photo at a swearing-in ceremony at the Government House in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday with New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon (left) and Governor-General Cindy Kiro. (Melissa Lee’s Facebook account)

A member of New Zealand’s new National Party-led government took her oath in English and then in Korean, the language of her native country.

Melissa Lee, whose Korean name is Lee Ji-yun, was named the minister for economic development, ethnic communities, media and communications, making her the first person of Korean heritage to hold a ministerial position in New Zealand’s government.

Lee alternated between English and Korean while reading the oath in the official ceremony Monday. Lee said she solemnly swore to be truly loyal to His Majesty King Charles III, his heirs and successors, according to the law.

“An incredible honor to be asked to serve in the next National-led Government. I look forward to getting stuck in as the next minister,” she stated on her Instagram account that day.

Born in Korea in 1966, Lee lived here until age 10, before she relocated to Malaysia with her family. She studied communications at Deakin University in Australia and moved to New Zealand in 1988, where she worked for 20 years as a journalist and anchor.

In 2008, she was first elected to Parliament as a member of the center-right National Party. She was re-elected for her sixth term in the general election held in October. Minister Lee also recited the prayer in Korean at the start of a plenary session in the New Zealand Parliament in 2021.