The Korean Investment Corporation (KIC), the embryonic government institution being seeded with an initial $20 billion from KoreaÆs foreign reserves, has finally hired a chief investment officer, removing the last major obstacle to beginning operations.

Guan Ong, former president and CEO at Prudential Asset Management in Seoul, has joined as KICÆs CIO. He reports to Lee Gang-won, the KICÆs CEO and former head of Korea Exchange Bank.

The organisation has also hired Rhee Kee-hong as general manager of the investment team. Rhee formerly ran international investments for the Korean Federation of Community Credit Cooperatives, and his role will now be filled by Juh Sung-doo, who worked under Rhee at the KFCCC.

The KIC is modelled after SingaporeÆs Government Investment Corporation and is meant to both lure global fund managers to set up in Korea as well as to put the government in the flow of global financial information. Eventually the organisationÆs AUM should grow to $100 billion, largely seeded by the central bankÆs reserves.

Bickering between the Bank of Korea and the Ministry of Finance and Economy have reportedly slowed the KICÆs progress, and the decision on hiring a CIO has been delayed for about a year. In order to give the KIC a sense of probity, the government has been keen to put a foreigner in the CIO role.

Singaporean native, Guan has been with Prudential Asset Management for eight years, including stints in Hong Kong and Singapore. Prior to that he worked in credit research for Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong, and got his start at the then-named CSFB in London.

Prudential is the first international fund house to declare Korea its regional headquarters, having entered the market by acquiring Hyundai Investment Trust. Christopher Cooper remains Prudential Investment TrustÆs president.

The KIC will continue to build infrastructure and hire more team leaders before it is ready to outsource investment mandates, report sources in Seoul, but GuanÆs hire means it can now get down to determining its risk budget and asset allocation.