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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Birthplace of UN Secretary-General - Ban Ki-moon, Eumseong, Northern Chungcheong


This is a memorial hall built in the village of the birthplace of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. It is located in the Ban Ki-moon Pyeonghwa Land, which is a theme park decorated with sculptures and artworks signifying Ban Ki-moon and the UN. 

The place offers to visitors Ban's detailed life story up to the point of becoming the UN Secretary-General from his childhood, school life to 37 years as a diplomat. Also, the place introduces Ban's various activities for world peace such as dealing with the issues of climate change, poverty and diseases after he became the UN Secretary-General.


About Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon (Hangul/Hanja: 반기문/潘基文; born 13 June 1944) is the eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, after succeeding Kofi Annan in 2007. Before becoming Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he graduated from university, accepting his first post in New Delhi, India. In the foreign ministry, he established a reputation for modesty and competence.

Ban was born in a small farming village in 17 Haengchi Drive/Haengchi-gil, Sangdang-ri 602-2 beonji, Wonnam-myeon, Eumseong County, Northern Chungcheong Province, in June 1944. His family then moved to the nearby town of Chungju, where he grew up. During Ban's childhood, his father had a warehouse business, but the warehouse went bankrupt and the family lost its middle-class standard of living. When Ban was six, his family fled to a remote mountainside for much of the Korean War. After the war ended, his family returned to Chungju. Ban has mentioned meeting American soldiers at this time.

In secondary school (Chungju High School), Ban became a star student, particularly in his studies of the English language. In 1962, Ban won an essay contest sponsored by the Red Cross and earned a trip to the United States where he lived in San Francisco with a host family for several months. As part of the trip, Ban met U.S. President John F. Kennedy. When a journalist at the meeting asked Ban what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said, "I want to become a diplomat."

He received a bachelor's degree in international relations from Seoul National University in 1970, and earned a Master of Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1985. At Harvard, he studied under Joseph Nye who remarked that Ban had "a rare combination of analytic clarity, humility and perseverance." Ban was awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) by the University of Malta on 22 April 2009. He further received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Washington in October 2009.

In addition to his native Korean, Ban speaks English and French. There have been questions, however, regarding the extent of his knowledge of French, one of the two working languages of the United Nations Secretariat.

Ban was the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea from January 2004 to November 2006. In February 2006 he began to campaign for the office of Secretary-General. Ban was initially considered a long shot for the office. As foreign minister of Korea, however, he was able to travel to all the countries on the United Nations Security Council, a maneuver that turned him into the campaign's front runner.

On October 13, 2006, he was elected to be the eighth Secretary-General by the United Nations General Assembly. On January 1, 2007, he succeeded Kofi Annan. Ban struggled in his first month to adjust to the culture of the United Nations, but quickly found his bearings and passed several major reforms on peacekeeping and UN employment practices. Diplomatically, Ban has taken particularly strong views on global warming, pressing the issue repeatedly with U.S. President George W. Bush, and on the Darfur conflict, where he helped persuade Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir to allow peacekeeping troops to enter Sudan.

Ban Ki-moon met Yoo Soon-taek in 1962 when they were both high school students. Ban was 18 years old, and Yoo Soon-taek was his secondary school's student council president. Ban Ki-moon married Yoo Soon-taek in 1971. They have three adult children: two daughters and a son. His elder daughter, Seon-yong, was born in 1972 and now works for the Korea Foundation in Seoul. She is married to an Indian. His son, Woo-hyun was born in 1974 in India. He received an MBA from Anderson School of Management at University of California, Los Angeles, and works for an investment firm in New York. His younger daughter, Hyun-hee (born 1976), is a field officer for UNICEF in Nairobi. After his election as Secretary-General, Ban became an icon in his hometown, where his extended family still resides. Over 50,000 gathered in a soccer stadium in Chungju for celebration of the result. In the months following his election, thousands of practitioners of geomancy went to his village to determine how it produced such an important person. Ban himself is not a member of any church or religious group and has declined to expound his beliefs: "Now, as Secretary-General, it will not be appropriate at this time to talk about my own belief in any particular religion or god. So maybe we will have some other time to talk about personal matters." His mother is a Buddhist.

During his tenure at the South Korean Foreign Ministry, Ban's nickname was jusa, meaning "the Bureaucrat" or "the administrative clerk". The name was used as both positive and negative: complimenting Ban's attention to detail and administrative skill while deriding what was seen as a lack of charisma and subservience to his superiors. The South Korean press corps calls him "the slippery eel", for his ability to dodge questions. His peers praise his understated "Confucian approach." and he is regarded by many as a "stand-up guy" and is known for his "easy smile".