A female director at the Bank of Korea (BOK) Financial Markets Division, Suh Young-kyung, was appointed deputy governor of the central bank, Tuesday. She is the first woman to hold the job in the bank's 63 year history.
"I guess this is an era that needs female human resources," she said in a telephone interview.
At the end of last year, she was promoted to become a director, the first woman to attain the post ranked immediately under that of executives. This was only two years after she became an assistant director.
As a director, she has taken part in the central bank's monetary policy committee meetings and was the first woman to do so. She is also the only female among some 20 officials who participate in the committee meetings.
Her appointment as deputy governor came just seven months after her previous promotion. She is the first BOK member, regardless of gender, to advance so quickly.
After majoring in economics at Seoul National University, she entered the BOK in 1988 after one year at a research institute. She said only a few women chose economics as their college major at that time, and thus there were a small number of female workers at the central bank.
"I opted for the BOK because I am able to analyze the economy comprehensively. Working here is attractive because there are both academic and practical aspects," said the 50-year-old.
The unusual promotion came among a global trend in which the number of female executives is growing at central banks of other major countries, as well as the election of Korea's first female President.
But Suh's advancement did not come easily: she had to fulfill a dual role as a working mom with two boys. "My family supported me a lot, especially my mother and mother-in-law who helped childcare," she said.
Suh obtained her master's and doctor's degrees in economics at George Washington University. At the BOK, she has worked in various fields including information technology, research, monetary policy and markets, and international affairs.
"Through her overseas study experience, she is fluent in English. Her language skill will help the BOK express Korea's stance more actively at international meetings and form networks with central banks of other nations," said an official.