Affiliated with the Saenuri (Grand National) Party, he held office as Governor of South Korea's South Gyeongsang Province. During the first decade of the 21st century, he also served as chairman of his political party.
Following his studies at Seoul's Korea University, he worked as a prosecutor.
He accused Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon of extortion and improper use of funds.
After growing up in Changnyeong, South Korea, he attended Yeungnam High School in the city of Daegu.
His contemporary and fellow South Korean political figure, Ban Ki-Moon, served as Secretary General of the United Nations.