First Korean elected to lead Oxford debate team

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First Korean elected to lead Oxford debate team



Lee Seung-yoon, 22, has become the first Korean student elected president of the top debating society at the University of Oxford.

Lee, who is also known as John Lee, beat out his British opponent and was elected as the next head of Oxford Union on March 2.

The Oxford Union Society, founded in 1823, is a prestigious student debating society whose membership is largely drawn from the University of Oxford but is also open to other students.

Born in Seoul, Lee spent most of his life in Korea and attended Kyonggi Elementary School in Seodaemun District, and Shinbanpo Middle School in Seocho District. He went to high school in Virginia before returning to Korea for his senior year. He graduated from Daewon Foreign Language School in 2010. He studies at Hertford College, one of the constituent colleges of Oxford University. His father is a doctor and his mother is a professor at Inha University.

“I am always interested in personal participation in society. I am considering ultimately becoming a politician,” Lee said.

Lee won the student election with a margin of 29 votes over his opponent.

“When I heard the election results, I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

Lee is currently serving as the treasurer of the Standing Committee, which runs Oxford Union.

There are 120 Korean students enrolled at the University of Oxford. Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was the Union’s first Asian president in 1977.

He said that as president he can choose 10 debate topics.

“I definitely want to hold a debate on North and South Korean relationships,” he said.

Lee will take up presidency of the debating society for the 2012-13 school year in October.


By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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