During my years in different branches with various positions in the federal government, I recognized that I am gaining exceptional experiences at the federal level, but not enough in the local area. I believe that the success of any country's operations relies on smooth collaboration and cooperation between the local and national governments. With that recognization, I decided to apply to work for my city government — Jeju Provincial Government — as a Public Policy Citizen Advisor. Concurrently as a Content Strategist for the Ministry of Environment, I began this new position at the city level confident that working at both the local and national levels would teach me several invaluable lessons.
I knew that this would not be easy. Every year, only 4% of the high school students were admitted to this program, and even fewer students finished the program successfully. Fortunately, my experiences working at the national level were perceived as an asset, and I was admitted to become the citizen policy advisor for the Jeju Provincial Government.
After the announcement, all citizen policy advisors were able to collaborate with the Jeju government to monitor provincial and municipal government policies and affairs and local government-sponsored volunteer activities supporting underprivileged populations. After analysis, we would eventually propose government policies, grants, and other programs based on personal study and citizen feedback directly using the government portal.
The term for this program, two years, is relatively longer than other positions inside the government. This is my second year in this program, and out of countless meetings and small events, I would like to share a memorable event that I had the privilege to attend during my 1st year.
December 8th of 2021, the Prime Minister of South Korea and the Jeju Province Governor of South Korea cohosted The Saemaul Undong, also known as the New Community Movement. Initially, it was a political initiative launched on April 22nd, 1970, where federal, local, and town government leaders discussed the urbanization of rural towns.
For this year's event, the agenda was to mobilize town government leaders who had been leading the unification and protection of their communities during the COVID-19 era, such as quarantine, fabric mask production, vaccination assistants, and sharing activities geared toward mental and emotional wellbeing.
The Jeju Government had informed us Public Policy Citizen Advisors that the majority of the population in these towns were elderly residents. A few weeks before the convention, they've asked us to create campaigns that would motivate these elderly populations to get booster shots for the coronavirus vaccinations.
After our project was launched, we began to brainstorm ideas on motivating and spreading the words of booster shot availability to elderlies. With deep considerations, we have decided to create a COVID-19 Health Kit where we would create mini bags consisting of masks, hand sanitizer, oral cleanser, and disinfection wipes. Those boxes included convenient and easily understood instruction manuals on getting booster shots. After creating those kits, we have handed them out to town government leaders so that they would be able to provide them with these kits when they reach back home.
As an inspiring political science student, I felt privileged to be part of both sides of the government, local and federal. I have once written an Independent Research Paper mentored by one of Columbia University graduates, and I decided to write upon the importance of the unification of governments. The scope of that research paper focused on the COVID-19 era, but I felt proud of myself because it seemed like my thesis was being proven to be accurate and stronger through these events.
While working as a HOBY Youth Education Commissioner at HOBY Korea, I mainly created curricula and programs that many students can pursue to expand their knowledge and interest in researching politics, culture, and international relations. One of the programs that I led during my time in HOBY was reading over opinion editorials that our fellow students submitted to our program. Here is the sample video that I have created for these students to know when drafting an article.
Please refer to this link to see what kind of programs I have been leading back in my years in HOBY.
Ministry of Environment - What environmental issues were discussed at the 75th U.N. General Assembly
Ministry of Environment's November Fam Tour: A Review on the Portrait of the Earth (Korean Language)
이번엔 환경부 팸투어에서 가장 하이라이트였다고 생각했던 지구의 초상 전시회에 대한 후기와 개인적으로 지구의 초상 전시회에서 눈에 들었던 인물의 환경 뒷이야기에 관해 소개를 해보려고 합니다.
저희 기자단이 방문했던 카페는 헤이데어 (Hey There)라는 친환경 카페였고 이 카페 지하 1층에서 지구의 초상 전시회를 만나볼 수 있었습니다. 카페에 처음 들어갔을 때 분위기가 매우 좋았고 무엇보다 정말로 깨끗했으며 제가 시킨 메뉴 또한 아주 마음에 들었습니다. 저는 레모네이드를 시켰었는데 레몬을 직접 간 거 같은 생과일 맛이 났고 탄산까지 매우 잘 섞여 음료를 참 새콤달콤하게 마신 기억이 아직도 남습니다! 음료 얘기가 좀 길었네요! 너무 목이 말라서… 본격적으로 지구의 초상 전시회를 보러 지하 1층으로 가보겠습니다!
지하 1층에 처음 들어섰을 때 알록달록한 물감들로 꽉 채워진 캔버스에 세계적으로 알려진 위인들의 섬세한 초상화와 환경에 대한 인용 문장을 볼 수 있었습니다.
일단 전시회에 들어섰을 때 느꼈던 첫 번째 감정은 아직까지도 세계적으로 널리 알려진 위인들이 환경에 신경을 쓰고 저희가 사는 지구를 좀 더 나은 곳으로 만들기 위해 정말 고된 노력을 하고 있다는 것을 깨달았습니다. 이 전시회에는 정치, 외교, 비즈니스, 엔터테인먼트, 등 여러 분야 해서 활동하고 계시는 위인분들을 초상화로 만나 뵐 수 있었습니다. 여기서 느낄 수 있었던 두 번째 감정은 여러 분야에서 각자 일을 수행하고 계시는 위인분들이 모두 환경이라는 주제로 하나 되어 환경에 대해 의견을 내놓았는데, 굉장히 마음에 와닿는 효과 있는 문장부터 자가 반성을 하게 하는 문장들도 있어 의미 있는 시간을 조용히 보냈던 것 같습니다. 또한, 이 전시회를 보면서 초상화 퀄리티에 다시 한번 놀랐습니다. 모든 그림의 초상화가 위인들을 정말 잘 표현해낸 거 같았습니다. 머리 색깔, 손동작, 연설할 때 습관, 등 하나하나 꼼꼼히 분석하여 아름다운 그림으로 담아내었다는 것을 알 수 있었습니다. 그래서인지 초상화 퀄리티 때문에 인용 문장들이 실재 인물이 저에게 말하는 듯한 느낌을 주어서 더욱더 감명 깊게 보았던 시간이 되었던 거 같습니다. 전시회를 떠나기 전 마지막으로 느꼈던 감정은 환경문제를 고치려면 하나가 되어야 한다는 것을 다시 한번 느꼈습니다. 환경문제들은 전쟁으로도 해결할 수 없고, 무기로도 해결할 수도 없고, 정치로도 해결할 수 없으며, 사업으로도 해결할 수 없습니다.
각 나라 정상들과 환경 전문가들이 전문적인 환경문제 해결안을 내놓으면 시민 한 명 한 명이 같이 참여하여 고쳐나가야 환경문제가 빨리 해결될 수 있음을 느꼈습니다. 환경문제는 전문가들만이 해결할 수 있는 것도 아닌, 각국 정상들이 해결할 수 있는 것도 아닌, 시민 한 명 한 명이 모여 전 세계 사람들이 다 한마음으로 환경에 힘을 써야만 이 문제들이 해결될 수 있음을 느꼈습니다. 이 전시회를 다녀가며 저 자신이라도 앞서서 환경문제에 대해 모범을 보여야겠다는 생각이 들었습니다.
마지막으로 이 전시회에 있던 모든 인물이 눈에 띄었고 환경에 대한 인식이 뛰어나지만, 저에게 개인적으로 와닿았던 인물 한 분에 대해 소개해 드리고 싶었습니다.
위에 사진에서 “We Will Be Watching You!”를 외치는 분은 그레타 툰베리 (Greta Thunberg)라는 17세 학생입니다. 이 학생은 어렸을 때부터 환경을 매우 아끼고 변화를 불러오는 사람이 되고 싶었습니다. 16세 나이에 그레타는 Rolling Stone에서와의 인터뷰에서 로사 파크 (Rosa Park)라는 활동가 덕분에 환경에 대해 직접 변화를 불러오기로 했다고 하는데요, 로사 파크는 1900년대에 몽고메리 버스 보이콧의 중추적 역할을 하였고 미 의회는 그녀를 "민권 영부인"과 "자유 운동의 어머니"라고 불렀을 만큼 자신이 열정적인 분야에서 눈에 띄는 활동을 이뤄냈습니다. 그레타 툰베리는 환경문제에 대한 로사 파크와 같은 활동가들이 없다고 느꼈으며 활동을 시작하기에 앞서 느낀 감정에 대해서는 이렇게 전했습니다: “나는 이런 [환경 문제들이] 일어나지 않게 하려고 아무도 아무것도 하지 않는다는 것을 깨달았다. 그때 나는 뭔가를 해야는 것을 깨달았다.” 이렇게 활동을 본격적으로 시작한 툰베리는 스웨덴에서 매주 금요일 “School Strike for Climate”라는 기후변화 학교 파업 시위를 이끌었고 스웨덴 의회 앞에서 이 시위를 진행하였습니다. 이 활동들은 스웨덴 학생뿐만이 아니라 독일, 일본, 미국, 오스트레일리아, 등 전 세계 학생들에게로 퍼져 나갔고 세계적인 활동으로 이어졌습니다. 이 때문에 세계적인 관심을 끈 툰베리는 UN 기후 행동 정상 회의에서 연설을 하였는데 이날 툰베리는 "모든 미래 세대의 눈이 여러분을 향해 있습니다. 여러분이 우리를 실망하게 하기를 선택한다면 우리는 결코 용서하지 않을 것입니다."라고 경고하였습니다.
저 또한 이 영상 클립을 옛날에 봤었던 기억이 있는데, 비슷한 세대에 살고 있던 사람인지라 공감이 많이 되었으며 툰베리가 외치는 환경 이슈와 해결책들이 저에게 환경이슈를 더 진지하게 받아들일 수 있는 변화점이었으며, 저 자신이 어떻게 하면 환경문제를 해결할 수 있을까 고민하게 되는 시작점이었습니다. 더불어, 그 연설과 툰베리과 진행했던 시위들을 보며 저 또한 미래 환경을 걱정하는 시각도 생겼습니다. 그래서인지 이날 보았던 툰베리의 초상화와 인용이 다시 이 기억을 되찾아주었고 여러 깊은 생각들을 불러오는 초상화라고 느껴 이번 포스트에 후기를 남기며 같이 소개해 드렸습니다!
지구의 초상은 제가 이번 팸 투어를 참석하면서 가장 마음에 들었던 행사였고, 최근에 봤던 전시회 중에서 가장 저에게 감명 깊게 다가온 전시회였던 거 같습니다. 여러 감동, 희망, 슬픔, 후회, 등 다양한 감정들이 오고 가게 하는 초상화와 인용들이었고 환경에 대해 여러 사람이 이렇게 뜻깊게 생각해 주고 있다는 것에 대하여 마음이 따뜻해졌고 감사해졌습니다. 이날 저에겐 깊은 희망이 보였습니다. 미래 세대들을 위해, 또한 우리가 살고 있는 세상을 위해 다 같이 환경문제를 인지하고 해결에 힘쓸 수 있는 사회가 형성되기 바랍니다.
Mexican Embassy Feb 2020 News
Ambassador: (Benny) Sungbin Hwang
Representing: Embassy of Mexico in Korea
Month: February 2020
Update: Breaking Barriers of Tradition by Alberto Lopez Gomez
Gender equality issues might seem resolved around the modern era, however, it is still a serious social norm in various places on Earth. Mexico is one of the places where the roles of men and women are strongly assigned. Lopez came from the Los Altos region of Chiapas. Historically, a Maya country where it is rural and has a strict traditional community. Lopez was specifically living at the small Tzotzil community of Aldama, in this community, women were assigned to do women’s work such as needling, washing, housework, and art. Men were toiling fields, doing strength work.
In 2014, Lopez at the age of 25, questioned the gender social norms that are happening in Mexico. Thus, he decided to challenge traditional social norms to become a designer himself. He was hoping that their parents would support to go against the social norm in his country, directly quoting Lopez, “It took me a while to tell my mother that I wanted to learn to work on a backstrap loom. She was surprised because no man had ever done this, but she supported me from the first moment.” With their parents’ support, he spread the news by notifying the newspaper company. Now being public, Lopez faced some challenges of ignorance and disapproval from people. Everyone said this is highly against the social norm, hence he will not be successful. Lopez answered with ignorance.
Lopez continued his journey, he woke up and worked 14 hours a day, allowing him to hone his techniques, throughout hard-working. He moved on to grow as a founder of a design business at the tourist destination of San Cristóbal de las Casas. With his location, more than 130 Tzotil artisans brought textiles from fair prices, with equal treatment. Six years later, his long-term practices and talent were recognized. He had a chance to present his work at Harvard University and New York’s prestigious fashion week. This step was a huge step up to Lopez, his goal of breaking the barrier of gender work social norms were now internationally being recognized. Here is the timeline of the events:
In January, he traveled to Boston and gave a speech about the cosmology of traditional Tzotzil huipils. Tzotzil Huipils was the square or rectangular garments common in central and southern Mexico and are often highly decorated with woven and embroidered patterns. These designs are linked to the traditional beliefs and customs of a location.
This month, in February, Lopez officially declared he is a designer, not a farmworker. In New York Fashion Week, he and along 150 women weavers from his region presented the designer line called K’uxul Pok. The world considered this event as a turning point on social norms, and an important event to promote the traditional textiles of his region globally.
Until the present day, even right at this moment, Lopez continues to work against the notion that weaving is only for women. He is a designer, and he is a global leader that started small but now internationally recognized. He started inside his town, a small community to challenge the social norm, and practice designing, then he grew domestically to present his designing. Now presented on the world stage of the New York fashion show, he was internationally recognized as a designer and global leader that leads the changes in gender social norms of jobs. This article will finish with Lopez’s quote about his goal. “My goal is to let people know about my work and the work of my associates, even though people sometimes are envious or critical. I learn a lot by being able to give my associates encouragement.”
Mexican Embassy December 2019 News
Ambassador: (Benny) Sungbin Hwang
Representing: Embassy of Mexico in Korea
Month: December 2019
Update: NOAA supports restoring the Gulf of Mexico's ecological system
“We are one, after all, you and I, together we suffer, together exist and forever will recreate one another,” this quote stated by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin emphasizing the unity of the world, well suited to the recent situation between the United States and Mexico. The United States government decided to support 300,000,000,000₩ towards Mexico with the purpose of restoring the environmental issues that occurred from the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill Incident. This news was applied to the quote because when it comes to an international environmental problem, regardless of political, business, and other issues that are happening between countries, countries are sorted to help the world, since we all live in a single world, Earth. To learn more about this event, it is significant to see what happened in 2010.
April 20th, 2010 the BP (the British Oil Industry Company)’s Macondo (oil field) blew out in mile-deep water in the Gulf of Mexico. Due to this sinking, the Deepwater Horizon drill rig exploded, it killed 11 workers, 17 injuries, and it was recorded as the worst environmental disaster in North, Central, and South America’s history. The oil continued to leak at the Gulf of Mexico until July 15th, 2010. NRDC reported an estimated 171 million gallons of oils have been leaked, and 1.8 gallons of toxic chemical dispersants were used in response efforts. Although, the gas leak was critical to the sea environment. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) reported that 600 turtles, 150 whales, and dolphins were dead due to the oil spill. Significantly, the ocean might be still toxic resisting the ocean species to live in those areas. Hence, the NOAA decided to spend 300 billion won in order to restore the condition in the ocean environment.
With the United State’s government approval of NOAA spending the 300 billion won, they announced, directly quoting, “the plan funds 18 projects at an approximate cost of $226 million to help restore fish, sea turtles, marine mammals and deep-sea coral habitat injured by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,” during the press conference. Specifically, the project will include organizations working to find and implement innovative ways to reduce the bycatch of fish and marine animals. Here are some goals of the projects:
Overall, the NOAA is worried even right until this moment, the ocean environment is harming the ocean species, and in 2019 NOAA reported they believe more than 600 turtle,s 150 whales, and a dolphin was found dead due to a response to the oil spill. It is significant to consider the environment first, more than anything since we live in this world. Some projects will be short-termed, and some projects will be longer than expected. Although, it is reliving that countries are paying attention to these incidents and it is hoped that the ocean environment in the Gulf of Mexico will be resolved in an urgent matter.
Mexican Embassy 2019 October News
Ambassador: (Benny) Sungbin Hwang
Representing: Embassy of Mexico in Korea
Month: October 2019
Update: Miguel León-Portilla’s Death
Miguel León-Portilla died on Tuesday, October 1st. 2019. He was an important figure in Mexico recognized by being a philosopher, historian, humanist and linguist who had a dream about indigenous peoples to be valued and recognized with their rights. To recognize his death, the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, sent condolences to his family recognizing him as “ a strong defender of native cultures.” Other government officials also sent condolences and described him in a positively diverse way. Esteban Moctezuma, the Secretary of Public Education, quoted him as “one of the intellectual summists of cour country.” Meanwhile, in the culture side, Alejandra Frausto, Secretary of Culture, pronounced his academic’s work as a “voice to the defeated.”
Miguel León-Portilla contributed his whole life to the native cultures. He showed an outstanding passion through his areas of studies and great commitment. Portilla received the Belisario Dominguez-which is a medal that is given to a person who contributed to the Mexico Government in a greater value-in 1995 and he was a member of the National College since March 23rd, 1971. During his academic career, Portilla studied Nahua language and literature (native group in Mexico) and had an unusual depth of understanding. Not only in Mexico but the United States also recognized his knowledge and passions. Hence, the Library of Congress in December 2013 awarded Portilla with the “Living Legend Award.” Although, according to Portilla, his greatest recognition was the nickname of “Great Tlacuilo of the Nahuatl Language.” The nickname was from the Ancient Mexico times, a nickname for a person who painted or wrote hieroglyphs, ideograms, and pictograms.
Spreading the knowledge of Nahuatl Culture, Portilla wrote a book called Vision of the Defeated. This book was a series of testimonies and paintings that describe the impact the conquest had on Nahuatl culture. This book got internationally published and translated into more than 20 languages, such as Russian, English, Japanese, German, French. Portilla even wrote a poem with a title of When a language dies. Here is the poem:
When a tongue dies,
Many have already died
And many can die
Forever broken mirrors,
Shadow of voices
Humanity is impoverished.
“What interested me most in life is to continue fighting side by side with the indigenous peoples, with the native peoples, in defense of their languages and culture: the deepest root of Mexico, our great wealth,” said Portilla for expressing his reasons of writing works of literature. Miguel León-Portilla overall, always loved teaching because it was the noblest way to share knowledge. Furthermore, Portilla wanted to teach until the last day of his life. As a Mexico Embassy of Korea’s farewell ambassador, Miguel León-Portilla’s work and effort should be internationally recognized. For Miguel León-Portilla, may the souls of the deceased refrain.
While it may seem like an obvious advantage have youth on staff as interns at the Seoul Metropolitan Government Youth Center, this was far from the case when I was brought on as the first and only high school student intern. While this would not be my first government internship, this would be my first opportunity to make an impact at the municipal level. The fact that I would be the Program Manager Intern at a facility specifically designated for youth added fuel to my flame.
Some of my tasks Included:
• Creating and coordinating online and offline youth programs, including a counseling center and digital
platforms, that raised awareness of political issues and career opportunities among youth.
• Researching issues such as cybersecurity, parental pressure, and sexual harassment, to design a program
allowing youth to express their challenges and experiences to the government in a supportive environment.
As a Korean youth myself, I already had awareness of the Issues facing youth from my personal experiences and from those of my friends and peers. I also had some background knowledge of those issues and their affects based on personal research I had done on statistics and other government data. What was most illuminating about this role, however, was how it completed changed my idea of what "research" could be. In order to ensure that the Youth Center was creating programs that directly addressed pressing youth needs, we conducted focus groups and interviews with young Koreans like myself. Even though my friends and I discuss some of these issues to an extent, listening to others share in a setting that is specifically for that purpose opened my eyes more than I could have imagined.
This is the kind of qualitative research that I realize is just as necessary as what the numbers show as I continue to move towards a future in government work. Statistics are only one part of the story, and the story is best heard from the people.
After seven rejections from the Korean government, my internship pursuit finally paid off when the Ministry of Environment made a special exception for me to join as an International Reporter Intern. My primary duties would be to promote the environment of Jeju Island to citizens across the Korean peninsula and to support the reporting of international environment issues throughout the government branch.
My daily and weekly tasks consisted of lots of research. As I would research international events of importance to the environment, the next step would be to identify the most promising potential stories and begin building them out. Final products were articles on the government website, with content ranging range from short reports and infographics to short documentaries and digital pamphlets. It was incredibly fulfilling to know that I had made some form of impact when I would receive thankful emails from citizens who had read the materials that I helped to prepare.
This role helped me to better understand that how the government communicates its policies and reforms is just as important as what the reforms are themselves. When government information is hard to access or to understand, the very people that policies are meant to support often end up missing out on those opportunities. I could not have imagined a better first government internship experience, as I have been able to take this insight with me into each of my later roles conducting marketing and outreach efforts.