Hong Seok-hyun

Hong Seok-hyun bigraphy, stories - Ambassadors

Hong Seok-hyun : biography

1949 –

Hong Seok-hyun (born 1949) is a noted figure in South Korean media industry. He is the chairman of JMnet(JoongAng Media Network) and JoongAng Ilbo, one of the major Korean daily newspapers with the circulation of 1,300,000 copies(as of 2011).

In 1994 he became the president and publisher of JoongAng Ilbo. Since then, he has led major innovations in Korean newspaper industry, and completed comprehensive and all-round media portfolio with 25 different media organizations.

As being recognized by a wide range of global network and partnership of the company, he served as the president of the World Association of Newspapers from 2002 to 2004, and was the first person from Asia to hold the post. He was the president of the Korea Association of Newspapers from 2003 to 2005. He has been active in public service as well. From late 70s to early 80s, he worked in the World Bank and Korean government service. Also, he served as the ambassador to the United States from February 2005 until his resignation in September 2005.

Hong graduated from Kyunggi High School in 1968. He received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Seoul National University (Korea) in 1972, and a master’s in industrial engineering from Stanford University (USA) in 1978. He went on to acquire a Ph. D in economics from Stanford University (USA) in 1980.

Global Activities

As being recognized by a wide range of global network and partnership, he served as president of the World Association of Newspapers, a position to which he was elected in 2002 and re-elected in June 2004. He also served as the first chairman of the newly launched the English-Speaking Union Korea in 2004. He is a member of the Trilateral Commission; the International Advisory Council for the Center on Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution; the Advisory Council for the Asian Studies Center of the Heritage Foundation; and the Advisory Council of the Korea Society. He also serves on the board of the Asia Society.

CEO of a global media group

Since he became the president and publisher of JoongAng Ilbo in 1994, he has achieved major innovations and development of Korean newspaper. He has presented new standards such as the induction of specialized journalists (1994), the publication of sectional newspapers (1994), the start of an online news service for the first time in Asia (1995) and the publication of a high-end Sunday newspaper (2007) etc. These were all firsts in Korean press history and soon became new standards for the local industry. In 2009, JoongAng Ilbo changed its format from Broadsheet to Berliner, which was the first move among Korean newspapers.

In 2000s, JoongAng Ilbo has expanded into a comprehensive and all-round media group, which is called JMnet(JoongAng Media Network). JMnet has achieved vertical integration from content production to content distribution by operating newspapers (JoongAng Ilbo, JoongAng Sunday, IS Ilgan Sports, Korea JoongAng daily, The Korea Daily), broadcasting channels (JTBC, QTV, J Golf, Cartoon Network), publishing, magazine and entertainment sectors. JMnet is the only media group that runs such a diverse portfolio in Korea. With over 2,500 employees, its vision is to become a global media group that represents an Asian voice and an Asian perspective.

Public services

During his career, he has been active in public service. He worked as an economist for the World Bank from 1977 to 1983. From 1983 to 1985, he served as principal assistant to the chief of staff to the president of Korea. He also worked as a researcher in Korea Development Institute from 1985 to 1986. He was appointed to the ambassador to the United States from February 2005 until his resignation in September 2005.

Cultural Contribution

Hong has contributed to strengthen ties between scholars and journalists as annually hosting J-Global Forum and Northeast Asia Trilateral Forum. He is the president of the organizing committee of the World Culture Open(WCO), a glocal cultural network of people creatively collaborating for cultural exchange, space and support worldwide.

As an effort to restore Korean traditional culture, he founded Hwa Dong Cultural Foundation and has been staging related events and activities around the world. In 2011, Hwa Dong Cultural Foundation and The Prince’s Charities Foundation in UK completed the project of filming “The Arch of Enlightenment,” a documentary of restoration of Gwanghwamun Gate. The film was premiered at London’s Curzon Mayfair Cinema on 31 January 2011 with about 300 guests including Prince Charles and later aired on Sky Art 2. As the founder of Yumin Cultural Foundation, he also has supported various efforts to promote creative works in the fields of journalism, science, culture and society.