Hyunjong Kim was an MAIR student who graduated in December 2015. He wrote this post last fall while still interning. While completing his coursework in Syracuse, he also worked as a Research Assistant in the Korean Peninsula Affairs Center (KPAC) of the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs.
Established in 1949 in Washington D.C., the heart of international politics, The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the USA has engaged in and continued its efforts to strengthen the relationship between ROK and the U.S. and deepen the bilateral cooperation in addressing local, regional, and global challenges. Its missions are to (1) improve the rights and interests of Koreans in the U.S., (2) advance the bridge between ROK and the U.S., which helps expand the understanding of each country’s politics, economy, and cultures, and (3) display ROK’s responsibility and accountability as a member of the international community.
The political section, where I am currently interning, carefully follows diplomat relations, multilateral negotiations and announcements where the U.S. is engaged in. Also, the main duties of the research team in the political section are to (1) research on political/foreign policy issues, (2) analyze and report on think tank seminars and publications on international affairs, (3) analyze and report on relevant statements, briefings, and publications released by the U.S. government, and (4) translate various documents from English to Korean and vice versa in order to report to the headquarters, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Seoul.
I have been very impressed by how hard and diligent all of the diplomats and researchers work in promoting the relationship between ROK and the U.S. I was also surprised by the dynamic daily assignments I have every day, which is far from my initial expectations based on my previous experience in a bureaucratic system. Working with passionate and energetic people who are equipped with sufficient knowledge and understanding about issues I am interested in, always motivates and encourages me to navigate what I should focus on. Also, I am able to learn what is needed to improve myself and what I am confident in. I’ve learned that it is important to understand that my work would contribute to making ROK a better place.
The positive point of an internship with the Korean embassy is the ability to expand my personal networks, which brings me to achieve much information that I wouldn’t have been able to gain if I didn’t work here. By working with colleagues, I am able to hear from what characteristics are needed to be foreign affair officers. In addition to that, I am able to learn how to see things thoroughly while keeping one’s own view when communicating with foreign counterparts. Also, when there are issues that capture many international actors’ attention such as the Iran nuclear agreement or ASEAN forum, I try to ask how diplomats view these incidents. By doing so, I have a better understanding of what perspective Korea should maintain.
Another advantage of working at the embassy is that I have a chance to attend various seminars where regional experts attend and comprehend what their views are. Also, learning personal attitudes to other people is also one benefit that I have learned.
Diplomats’ understanding of global issues and foreign affairs are very crucial, and I am honored to witness those personalities in person. Working at the embassy is one of the unforgettable experiences that I have done. I am also able to bring my academic knowledge when I ask questions of diplomats who have an active role in practical fields.