Kim Kyung-ja, 55, currently director of the credit screening and evaluation department at the Export-Import Bank of Korea (Eximbank), has been promoted to become its first-ever female executive.
The state-run bank said Thursday that it appointed Kim to lead a key division that manages screening and credit assessment for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
This is the first time for the Eximbank to name a woman to an executive position since the bank was established in 1976.
"Kim was appointed through an open, fair and transparent screening procedure. We will continue to appoint qualified people that meet our standards of professionalism, leadership, communication, and ethics and morals," a bank official said.
Kim's expertise mostly involves overseas business management and credit analysis and assessment of companies.
She graduated from Yonsei University where she also earned a master's degree in environmental science. She will begin work following a regular reshuffle, Jan. 14.
Kim is among a growing number of women appointed as a CEO or senior executive at Korea's major financial service firms ― both private and state-run.
This is seen as a significant advancement inching closer to breaking the glass ceiling in the conservative industry.
Shinhan Financial Group appointed two women to senior executive positions ― Wang Mi-hwa and Cho Kyoung-sun ― in December 2018.
Their appointment came around the same time as former KB Financial Group and Kookmin Bank Vice President Park Jeong-rim was appointed as KB Securities co-CEO.
Park became the industry's first female CEO in the history of Korea's securities market since its launch in March 1956. Her achievement was meaningful given the reluctance of securities firms that are known to "exclude" women even more than banks.
The Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) appointed Kwon Sun-joo in 2013 as the first woman to head a bank in 2013.
The Korea Development Bank (KDB) has no female executives.