SEOUL: At the turn of the century, few Koreans might have thought that two of the world's most significant institutions would be headed by compatriots within 12 years.
Ban Ki-moon, Seoul's former foreign minister, was elected UN secretary-general in 2006, being re-elected in 2011 to serve another five years.
Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American physician and anthropologist, became the president of the World Bank last year.
Koreans, especially young people, have been encouraged and inspired by the scenes of the two leaders crisscrossing the globe to address tasks facing the international community.
A growing number of ambitious and competent Korean youths have been knocking on the doors of various international organisations with a dream of becoming global leaders like Ban and Kim in the future.
Despite this increasingly positive attitude, Korean staff presence in major global bodies, especially in finance, remains relatively weak. Recent data submitted by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance to a ruling party lawmaker showed that the proportion of Korean employees at international institutions was far below the level of the country's financial contributions to them.
The number of Koreans currently working at the World Bank stands at 52, accounting for a meagre 0.35% of its total staff, while Seoul shoulders 1.4% of the funding for the global public lender.
Korean staff presence in the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the African Development Bank remain at 1.77%, 0.67% and 0.17% respectively, while the country takes up 5.03%, 1.02% and 0.45% of international contributions to the coffers at each of the three lending institutions.