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Next first lady promises to help underprivileged

Dec 21,2007
Kim Yoon-ok
The country’s next first lady and her husband got married in 1970, but they missed their honeymoon.
Lee Myung-bak was sick because he had been working too hard, his wife, Kim Yoon-ok, has said. At the time, Lee was a 29-year-old executive at Hyundai Construction.
Kim, 60, nurtured an image of a loving wife on the campaign trail. At home, however, her husband jokingly calls her “my opposition party,” because she doesn’t hold back.
Kim will become the country’s 10th first lady when Lee is inaugurated in February.
Right after her husband got elected Wednesday night, Kim told supporters, “I will take care of underprivileged people and create an environment that’s friendly to raising children.”
Kim was born in Daegu on March 26, 1947. She was a student at Ewha Womans University when she met Lee, through her brother’s high school teacher, who had also taught him.
The couple have four grown children and six grandchildren.
Kim said she was used to negative campaigns. During Lee’s run for mayor of Seoul in 2002, a rumor came out that Lee had a child out of wedlock. Kim responded, “I would like to meet that child, if he or she exists. We could use the extra hands for our campaign.”
Kim, herself, also faced close public scrutiny. Kim Hyun-mi, spokeswoman of United New Democratic Party, accused her of wearing a $15,000 watch at a rally and said she must have “smuggled” it in. In response, Kim publicly displayed the watch. She said it was a Romanson, made in Korea and costing about $70, not a posh Frank Muller watch.
Kim filed a civil lawsuit against the spokeswoman in November in Seoul Central District Court for distributing wrongful information to the public and causing mental distress. In the suit, she is seeking 100 million won ($106,000) in damages.
The future first lady said the future is bright, pointing to her husband’s trademark facial feature.
“Even though his eyes are small, they have this insight that can see far ahead,” Kim said.


By Lee Yang-kyoung Staff Reporter/ Seo Seung-wook JoongAng Ilbo [enational@joongang.co.kr]



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