France's new president

France's first South Korean-born minister takes charge of small businesses

AFP/Fred Dufour

President Francois Hollande has named 38-year-old technocrat Fleur Pellerin as France's first South Korean-born minister, in charge of small and medium-sized businesses and the digital economy. 

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Pellerin was born in Seoul and adopted by French parents at the age of six months.

She had a brilliant academic career attending the highly selective Ecole Nationale d'Administration (ENA) which was also attended by Hollande and much of France's political class.

Pellerin, who says she does not see herself as Asian, was raised in a family "with left-wing values" and only joined the Socialist Party in 2006, before becoming Hollande's advisor on the digital economy.

She says that she declined an offer to stand for a safe seat in next month's parliamentary elections. In France, ministers are not required to hold elected office.

Previously little known in France, Pellerin was the subject of considerable interest among the Asian media during the presidential election campaign.

She has said that in Korea "there is a kind of collective guilt about having sent away children for adoption during the 1970s. Now, they're trying to renew their links and to see what these children have become."

She is married to Laurent Olleon, who also attended the ENA and now works at France's State Council, which provides legal advice to the government.

 

 

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