[ERICA’s Power] 34th ERICA Student Body President Jeon Yong-ki Becomes the Youngest Member of the National Assembly
[HY ERICA] Interview with Jeon Young-ki, serving as the 21st member of the Democratic Party of Korea (Division of Sport Science, Class of ’10)
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ERICA Student Body President Jeon Yong-ki Becomes the Youngest Member of the National Assembly
Alumnus Jeon Yong-ki (Division of Sport Science, Class of ’10)
The number of newly-elected members of the 21st National Assembly is 151. As all citizen wish for a ‘working National Assembly,’ their expectations for the representatives are very high. There are different calls for change for the members in their 20s and 30s of the National Assembly than in previous political moments. Deputy Jeon Yong-ki is one of the members of the 21st National Assembly. As a former ERICA student body president, we asked him about youth politics, an area of the New Politics.
A young deputy in his twenties, born by the hopes of the youth
Deputy Jeon Yong-ki, who proudly made his entry to the 21st National Assembly has just started his work as a member. Born in 1991, he is the youngest member of the Democratic Party of Korea in history and the youngest male member of the National Assembly selected in the 21st Assembly election.
“It didn’t feel real when I was elected. When it was time to go to the National Assembly, the responsibility came on me too heavily. I started my political activities by working for 3-4 years as the Chairman of the National University Student Council in the Democratic Party of Korea, and I am aware of how much my seniors have worked over the past 10 years to make members in their 20s and 30s of the National Assembly. I think my getting elected this time is the result of all that.”
He has steered a great amount of interest by being elected 6 times as a proportional representative by breaking through the harsh proportional elections in the Democratic Party of Korea election process. It was a miracle, and everyone was surprised about how such a young person with only 4 years of political party experience received votes. His biggest supporters were none other than young partisans nationwide. The young partisans were the strongest and firmest strength during the 800,000 electoral colleges’ 1st election and the central committee's 2nd election. As a result, he firmly achieved 3rd place in the central committee election, constituted by the heads of the local government such as the members of the National Assembly, mayors, and governors. It was a moment of hope for young partisans.
“One of the members of the central committee was very surprised at how I received such a large number of votes. In fact, he voted for me too but was 100% sure it was a wasted vote. He said he got lots of calls from young people asking him to vote for me. It is natural that he may not know what kind of young person I am because I have limited experience in politics. Nevertheless, he kept receiving calls from young partisans. He said he voted because he thought there would be a reason for it but could not expect how the result would turn out.”
There were crises of changing the affiliated party to the Democratic Party of Korea and getting laid behind as the 16th in number on central committee, but in the end, he entered the 21st National Assembly due to the votes of numerous citizens. His election could be said as the result of efforts his seniors put in for a long time to make the 2030 National Assembly and the hopes of young people to build a National Assembly that can sympathize with them.
A bigger world! Hanyang University, a life turning-point
Alumnus Jeon Yong-ki (Division of Sport Science, Class of ’10) was a disciplined young man during his student years who put forth his best efforts in every aspect. As he was a bowler during his middle and high school years, he entered university as a student-athlete. The reason why he chose Hanyang University was to tie in his studies.
“I made a promise to myself that when I went to university that I would not skip any lectures. Even if I was sick or drank a lot the day before, I always attended classes. I tried not to be absent even if I had to fall asleep during the class.”
Because he studied diligently, he naturally received high grades and graduated 2nd in his class. His participation in the student council started after his service in the military. It was not that he was thinking of joining the student council from the beginning. In fact, he was running away with excuses to his seniors that suggested he participate. However, he could not find any more excuses when he realized that he could both study and hold office. As he has a personality of enjoying meeting people and not being able to stand it if things do not get done, he worked like a workaholic. After starting as a member of the student council, his role extended to the Department of Sports student vice-president, College of Sports and Arts student president, and then ERICA student body president in no time.
His most memorable activities as the 34th ERICA student body president in 2016 are the prime business and the reformation of festival cultures. At that time, the opposing opinions of the prime business were strong due to the problems of department consolidation. For that reason, he thought there needed to be an opportunity for students to fully understand the necessity of the business and judge rationally. As a result, 1,300 students voted through the student council and 38.7% voted in favor. It was selected as the representative case of creating the best legislative organization that takes in the voices of students and derives a representative democracy. At that time, ERICA was the only university that presented a successful agreement and passed their evaluation with full marks on the "consensus with members" section. The transition from hosting festivals in Democracy Square for the last 30 years to the track and field was another unconventional move.
“There were always problems with safety accidents as Democracy Square was too small. Therefore, we changed the festival location to the track and field. There were lots of disagreements, but we managed to persuade the doubters one by one.” The story of building waterways on the track and field floor by using a shovel with the members of the student council in heavy rain is famous. From that day, it has become a tradition to make waterways during the festival when it rains.
“For me, Hanyang University is my life turning-point. I could finally realize how big the world is after coming to university. I built diverse things with friends from all backgrounds and got to see new worlds by meeting students from other departments. If I had not joined the student council or spoken up to society, I would have lived a life far from politics.”
Anticipating the work of a young, generation-representing politician
Deputy Jeon Yong-ki entered graduate school (Management Consulting, Class of ’17) after graduating in 2017 and made his mark on politics by playing the role as of the Democratic Party of Korea's 19th Presidential Election National Election Commission Youth Committee Director of Future Generation Joint Headquarters. After that, he worked as a Youth Policy Board researcher, National University Student Committee vice-president, and then president. After stepping into the National Assembly, he spoke of the New Politics. This means to approach politics from a new perspective. Many worry about his inexperience when looking at his relatively short time in politics, but thoughts do differ according to the generations.
“I think there are limits to solving youth problems through the lenses of the older generations. When solving a problem, the right answer can come when solving it from a diverse perspective. That is the reason why there needs to be politicians who can represent different generations. Looking at the big picture, I want to be a politician that protects minorities. However, as of now, I want to try solving difficult situations that our generation is facing as a youth politician that stands with a generation-representativeness.”
He defines politics as life. He says that the life of meeting people, connecting with others, and speaking for other people is politics. “I hope people’s awareness of politics can change. I hope people can learn the method of discussion and persuasion through politics. If that is achieved, healthy life politics like those of Northern Europe will be possible.”
He is still cautious due to the responsibility to do well as a new member of the National Assembly, but Deputy Jeon Yong-ki speaks of his aspirations to carry out bold and reformative assembly activities. He is expected to grow into a passionate and challenging icon that is told “the young do things well as expected,” speaks for minorities as a young politician, and becomes a role-model for their juniors in school.
Written by Oh In-sook Photo by Ha Ji-won
This content is published in the Hanyang University Journal ‘HY ERICA’ 2020 Summer Edition (Volume 95)
Click to see HY ERICA 2020 Summer Edition (Volume 95)
Click to see ‘HY ERICA’, ‘Jeon Yong-ki’ in [[Hanyang Wiki]]
Global News Team
Translation by: Park Gyeong-min
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