Look Far, and Take Steady Steps
Professor Kim Jae-hong, Department of Public Administration
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Looking back on his long career which includes serving as the vice minister of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy as well as the president of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), Kim Jae-hong (Department of Public Administration) summarizes the lessons that he had learned over the years into one phrase: “As a large bird flies over great distance.”
Taken from an ancient Chinese teaching, it is a phrase that emphasizes the importance of looking far and taking steady steps. “The large bird in the phrase is a massive mythical creature, with immeasurable wing span and size. The point is that once this bird takes off, it won't land in the middle of its flight for anything without great value,” explained Kim. In the same sense, it teaches us not to be swayed by immediate, marginal profits and to look at the long picture.
This phrase also happens to be the title of the book that Kim published recently, covering his life career as well as his insights into the industry that he has committed his life to. The first part of his career was as a public servant, eventually rising to take the role of the vice-minister of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy. Kim had specialized in the industry and trade throughout his 31 years of service.
According to Kim, the most difficult part of leading in a public role is maintaining the values of objectivity and fairness. “In all public policies, there tends to be people who benefit, and those who face a loss. Sometimes people facing a loss take drastic measures to oppose certain policies, and it takes a great deal of consideration and negotiation to satisfy all parties involved,” recounted Kim. Furthermore, as the position entails great influence, Kim was sometimes approached by interested parties, often times in very subtle ways. To maintain objectivity in these situations also required great effort.
The second part of his career was his three years as the president of KOTRA. After decades of creating public policies on trade and industries, this was his time to actually see through the practical practice. According to Kim, he was able to see and experience various processes that he had not been able to witness as a policy maker. Even the marginal exhibits required complicated regulations and detailed preparations, and it was a great experience for him to gain further expertise in the field.
Finally, Kim concludes his book by explaining the life lessons that he has learned through his career. Returning again to the old teaching, "to look far and take steady steps," Kim explained that this principle should be adopted by all domains. Public policies need to be made with significant long-term vision, and the national trade pattern needs to brush aside immediate surpluses and establish deeper trade relationships.
Kim refers to this principle in his advice to students of Hanyang. He was most concerned with students’ tendency to seek "stable" jobs. According to Kim, this goes against the value of youth, where challenges and adventures should take place. He advised students to come up with bigger dreams and to work hard for them. “In the course of my life, I have witnessed that if you have a dream, and work hard for it, you eventually get there. One way or another. So take great breaths and look far. Don’t remain short sighted,” encouraged Kim.
Lee Chang-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Lee Jin-myung
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