“I think he is the best choice as World Bank chief,” Lee said at talks with the Korean-American physician, according to the president’s spokesman.
US President Barack Obama last month tapped Kim, known for his work in global health campaigns against AIDS in Africa, to lead the World Bank.
Since the institution’s founding in 1944, Washington has always chosen its president. But this year it faces two challengers in Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Jose Antonio Ocampo of Colombia.
Kim is seeking to drum up support from major emerging economies on his tour, which is also taking him to Brazil, India and Mexico among other stops. He arrived in Seoul on Sunday after visiting China and Japan.
“The right person has been chosen as the World Bank needs change,” Lee said, praising Kim’s organisational management skills as Dartmouth College president.
“Kim was born in South Korea and watched its economic development. His experience… will contribute much to economic development in less developed countries,” the president said.
Kim expressed gratitude for Lee’s support, saying if chosen he would lead the World Bank “based on a lesson learned from South Korea’s economic development experience”.
Born in Seoul in 1959, Kim moved to the United States with his family when he was five years old.