As I write this, I find myself ruminating about the circumstances that have led me into making this life decision. I remember my first turning point occurred during the painfully transitional time between high school and university when I was deeply frustrated with the cramming education system in my country in Korea. I decided to postpone my genuine desire for a true learning until the entrance to Yonsei University English department, a course pursued by the elite. However, upon entrance to Yonsei, I soon found out that the university education in Korea is only an extension of its high school system.
Thus, unlike my friends devoted to earning GPA, I decided to spend my time and energy in the campus’ film and cultural criticism club because I wanted to continue my passion for true learning. I also actively participated in the eye-opening debates and film production so that I could fulfill my enthusiasm towards arts and culture beyond a school curriculum.
After the university graduation, I found myself satisfied with my first job in charge of planning and hosting art performances despite meager pay. When I moved to a law firm to earn enough money as tuition to study art theory abroad, I unexpectedly discovered a whole new vision of my future career while interacting with international lawyers in the intellectual property area. Thus, my second life-determining moment came when I finally decided to leave the performing arts in order to become a U.S. lawyer. This was quite a turn around on my part but I knew I was called for this.
I saw for myself how legal experts immersed themselves in creating a positive corporate environment. I was awed by the immensity of a lawyer’s job in helping the less fortunate who could not avail of any legal counsel to their problems. But I faced enormous objections from my own family who wanted me to settle down as a housewife which is what most women do at my age in Korea. What firmed my hopes, though, was when I read Toni Morrison’s Beloved, with the line that says “Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.” It dawned on me that I need to be the sole definer of my own life and continue with my decision to be an international lawyer.
Although the past year was obviously the most challenging moment of my life since l first had to cope with a language barrier especially during the first semester, I could finally accomplish 3.62 GPA in the second semester. More importantly, I found a U.S. legal system based on case laws which are very exciting and extraordinary since it leaves ample room for legal professionals to improve, thereby pursuing a significant change of society, which is quite improbable in the legal system based on the statutes of my country in Korea.
In the past, I resolved to stand for the underprivileged members of society. Yet, almost a decade has passed by, and I still cannot say which side I have championed. It is never too late, though. I am convinced that wherever I am situated, if I keep seeking a small but constant change toward a better society and world, that way would certainly be the right path.
Currently I am interning at the federal district court, and frequently see the indictees crying in court. Maybe many of them do so to appeal to the judge or jury’s sympathy, but the other day a young black girl, who was abandoned by parents in childhood and later involved in her boy friend’s drug dealing burst into tears after she was found guilty. Handing over a tissue to her, I thought that law should not only cut off social evils, but also lay foundations to protect the isolated class outside the society protection.
I am still pondering on what area of specialization I would concentrate on–intellectual property area or human rights. However, I can say for certain and firmly believe that equipped with great faculty members and resources will get me moving one step closer to my dream. In my chosen profession of law, I understand how being able to operate under the honor system can become a crucial crucible for success.
I believe if someone of my background and inclination is able to demonstrate an ability to excel under such a system, then I not only make my individual career successful, I will also pave the way for others of my background to be similarly accepted, assimilated, and trusted with such delicate positions as being an American lawyer of Korean roots. I believe I am up to the challenge. I have the willingness, the sensibility, and the moral aptitude to live under an Honor System. I see a stint at my chosen University as both a test and a preparation for an honorable and fulfilling life and profession afterwards.