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Lee Myung-bak was elected President of South Korea in 2008. Prior to assuming the presidency, he served as mayor of Seoul and was the CEO of Hyundai Engineering and Construction. Lee is a member of the conservative Grand National Party (GNP), which favors liberal economic policies and strong ties to the United States. A practicing Presbyterian, Lee's religion has been a source of controversy among segments of South Korea's Buddhist population who fear discrimination by his government. Following a substantial Buddhist protest in 2008, Lee expressed regret over the incident and assured religious leaders that he would maintain strict neutrality in religious affairs.