Bank of Korea (BOK), the nation’s central bank, has named Choo Heung Sik as director-general of its newly created reserve management group in an internal promotion.

Initial indications were that BOK, which manages over $300 billion in foreign exchange reserves, was leaning towards an external hire when its recruitment process started two months ago.

However, a human resources spokesman at the central bank notes that this was an open application process. He says there were eight applicants in the running, a mixture of both external and internal candidates.

The process was expected to be concluded by December with the chosen candidate starting on a three-year contract in February next year. It means the selection committee has opted for Choo quite quickly as the best option, and it is understood he could start as early as this month.

Choo has been working as director of BOK’s reserve management strategy division since August last year. The newly created reserve management group is an upgrade of that department.

His position is understood to have deputy-governor status and be one of only five such senior positions within BOK. The increased prestige comes with a bigger budget and the mandate to hire investment professionals.

He now has responsibility over investments, risk management, performance evaluation, settlements and overall supervision of the BOK’s foreign reserves. The role oversees a staff of 80 people.

Choo has more than 20 years’ of reserve management experience and has worked for BOK before. He first joined the bank in 1982 and spent many years there, including a stint in BOK’s New York office between 2001 and 2002.

Prior to rejoining BOK last August Choo worked as lead financial officer within the treasury department of the World Bank.

He graduated from Yonsei University (majored in economics) and also studied economics at Michigan State University from 1992 to 1994.