1. What did you do before you came to KDI School?
I studied abroad in Beijing, China for nine years. I’m really into learning new languages, so I majored in English Literature at Tsinghua University. Learning a language is so much more than just the process of gaining knowledge in itself, but also discovering more about their culture and customs. When I was in college, I was involved mainly in person-to-person type of diplomacy activities such as the college students honorary diplomacy program at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in China and OVAL (Our Visions for Asian Leadership), a trilateral cooperative organization between Korea, China and Japan.
2. What is your main area of interest?
Researching sustainable cooperation policies between Korea and ASEAN is currently my main interest. In particular, I would like to study the economic effectiveness of public diplomacy policy centered on a model of soft power. When I lived in China, I often had the opportunity to interact with students from South East Asia. My south east Asian friends were surprised when they learnt about Korea’s rapid economic growth, right after they’d lived through the Korean war, and they hoped to both share and learn from this Korean experience. The interest in Korea’s policy towards Southeast Asia has only served to strengthen my determination to study policy making in-depth. Designing a plan for the future of Asia which I can develop in collaboration with my colleagues from South East Asian countries still in need of assistance is my greatest area of interest. Additionally, I’m also keen to focus on governance and environmental policies.
3. What made you decide to come to KDI School?
When I was at college, I took some Social Sciences writing courses based on the concept of The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger. This enlightened me about global inequality issues. I grew interested in the type of Korean government which is most likely to establish a foreign policy with the goal of addressing global inequality. Ignited by this period of basic research, my interest in ODA policy has gradually grown from this. Working for Raise Uganda Now (RUN), a college student NGO supporting orphanages in Uganda, was the outcome from this. RUN’s activities taught me that ODA is another type of public diplomacy. RUN has given me the potential and a willingness to sustainably address and support groups impacted by different issues such as poverty eradication. I think KDI School not only offers many good opportunities for meeting people from different countries, but it is also a school specializing in studying policy making, with a strong focus on development policy. Personally, I think that a good policy maker should go beyond limited academic discussion, rather it’s more important to be able to consider a range of perspectives and be able to effectively apply this to reality. As KDI School professors have broad experience in the field, I believe that I could leverage this to study policy making informed by realistic and pragmatic view points.
4. What do you want to achieve in your time at the KDI School?
I would like to develop my insight and ability to contribute to solving some of the most pressing, fundamental problems that Asia’s presently facing. I aspire to become a policy specialist who studied Korea’s policy making ability and sustainable policies throughout Asia. This would be informed by learnings from the Korean experience of being able to rise up post-crisis, even though the country was in ruins after the Korean war. Although many countries struggle to build good relationships with South East Asia, I’m confident that Korea is uniquely positioned in being the only country that can successfully work with the people of South East Asia without instilling feelings of dislike.
5. What are your post graduation plans?
After graduation, my top priority will be to start pursuing and building my career in my chosen field. Another big step in the future is my long term plan for earning a Ph.D. As a policy analyst, I’ll direct my efforts towards seeking practical solutions to resolve societal issues in, whilst continuing to research ASEAN policy that focuses on sustainable cooperation with Korea which can positively influence Asia.