Hyeryeong Hailey Lee, '19, Intern at the ROK National Assembly in Seoul, Korea, Summer 2017

August 31, 2017
Image of ROK National Assembly Intern, Hyeryeong Hailey Lee, in Korea 2017

At the moment I was applying for KI Summer Internship, I didn’t know a lot about politics, especially Korean politics. However, still I put it on my list because it was a revolutionary period in Korea politics, following the impeachment of the former president. Although I was born and raised in Korea, I had only a little interest in the realm of my country’s politics because of the prejudices regrading the government that most politicians are corrupt and it is hopeless to expect to gain from them. However, I thought it was the right, if not perfect, time to experience Korean politics as it has proceeded to the revolutionary period and I hoped that my internship opportunity would provide me with better understanding of politics and administration in my homeland.

I worked as an intern at the Committe on Foreign Affairs and Unification for eight weeks. I was in charge of directing and organizing the US Congress-ROK National Assembly Student Exchange Program, so it was my work to make the program book and help the work of my supervisor and colleagues when necessary. This year's program has been delayed a bit, so I almost spent a month at the office making the booklet, translating the documents, and helping the Korean delegates prepare for their departure for the United States. I was also able to attend several hearings to confirm the appointment of new ministers as it was the time of regime change. I could really look and listen to the historical moments at the forefront of the procedure, and I was so honored to be, as my colleagues said, “the eyewitness to history”.

After these two weeks, I spent three weeks guiding the US delegates daily, even on weekends. I gave a briefing and presentation of National Assembly as a representative of our committee, and translated most of the time when the US delegates were listening to the briefing of other government-related organizations. We also went to DMZ, Joint Security Area, North Korean Refugee Center and War Memorial Hall. I also accompanied the US delegates in their trip to Jeonju and Yeosu, where we had so much fun in exploring the Korea as tourist, not just delegates from the US Congress. Although the workload was somewhat overwhelming, it was such a great opportunity to get to know both Korean and US delegates in more personal level. I was so happy to make so many new friends, and also my colleagues at work were wonderful to work with. And for the last week, I spent time compiling the program evaluation survey taken by both US and Korea delegates at the office.

It was such a wonderful experience to work at the ROK National Assembly, and especially our Committee members were more than just nice, so I really enjoyed working with them for two months. Just to note, interns at National Assembly should be fluent both in Korean and English because the work needs both language skills, especially when translating. After this internship, now I’m feeling confident with my knowledge on Korean politics, and I believe this summer internship opportunity will help me a lot in not just my Harvard academic life but also my long-time future career. I am even considering the realm of politics to be my future work field, as I really had a good time interning at the National Assembly.

I sincerely thank the donors who made this amazing opportunity possible for me, and also sending much gratefulness to Korea Institute for organizing this great program.