Park Jae-kyu Is Conflict Mediator
For Park Jae-kyu, 65, this year is special for not only signs of improved inter-Korean relations but also for an international prize he received.
In recognition of his 40-year devotion to peace on the Korean Peninsula, he garnered the Chirac Prize for Conflict Prevention in Paris last month.
But he made little fuss about the big event, humbly saying what he is should to do is just continue his studies as he has been doing.
``The screening was conducted in a quiet manner. As a prizewinner, I think I should continue to do my job in the same quiet spirit,'' he said.
``So, I should work harder to help improve inter-Korean relations and gain support from the international community for solving North Korea-related issues,'' he said.
The Jacques Chirac Foundation was created by former French President Chirac to work for peace and seek sustainable development and cultural dialogues.
This year, the organization started the awarding and Park became the first winner of the Special Jury Prize.
Park is a leading North Korea observer who served as unification minister between 1999 and 2001.
He played a critical role in organizing the first-ever inter-Korean summit in 2000 between the late President Kim Dae-jung and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-il.
Before working for the government, he served as a professor at Kyungnam University between 1973 and 1985, and helped establish the Institute for Far Eastern Studies and the Graduate University of North Korean Studies.
Graduating from Fairleigh Dickinson University in the United States, he received a bachelors degree in political science in 1967.
Two years later, he earned a masters degree in the same subject at City University of New York and in 1974, he received a doctoral degree from Kyunghee University in Seoul.
Park has also won several medals, including the Order of Service Merit Blue Stripes in 2002 and an Honorary Award from the U.S. Congress in 2009.