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Kim Hee-ok and a Date with Dongguk’s Reporters

   
   
Kim Hee-ok, the 17th president of Dongguk recently had a date with three Dongguk reporters. On April 30th the reporters met face to face with Kim Hee-ok for a face to face conversation. The pleasant conversation took place at the roof garden of the Central Library with cups of coffee. The purpose of the date was to learn how familiar Kim Hee-ok has become with Donggukians.

Q. Even though you have a very calm and dignified image, you also had a nickname when you were young. What was your nickname and what is its meaning?
A. I gained a nickname when I was in the 6th grade of elementary school which was “jade pot” (Ok Danji in Korean.) I acquired this nickname during my running in our elementary school presidential election. I still have some questions as to why I was given this nickname except for the “jade” part. Jade in Korean means “ok” and it is pronounced the same as the part of my name “ok.” I do not know the exact reason why “pot” became my nickname, but I guess it means that I am full of something and can contribute by helping other people such as families, society, and Dongguk.

Q. Do you have an attachment to any objects? What is something that you cherish?
A. I do not have great attachments to specific things with one exception; my fountain pen. In 2001, I was promoted to chief prosecutor and a junior at Dongguk gave me a gift, which was the pen. For 12 years I used the fountain pen for significant signings such as when I signed off on rulings. Even now, I keep the pen is in my office and I cherish it.

Q. How did you meet your wife? What kind of woman is she?
A. Actually, I met my wife when I was I was in the first grade of elementary school. We were in same class. My future wife to be, however, transferred to another school and later we met again when we were both university students. She was a woman who always cared for me. Even when I did not, at first, pass my bar exam she took care of me, and she did that again for more than a year when I was suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis.

Q. What kind of husband and father are you when you are at home?
A. In the past, I do not think that I was an especially good husband or father while at home. I was always very busy due to my work for this country and our society. Because of this, I had little time to take care of my family. For example, I always expected my wife, or someone else, to open the home door for me each day when I came home from work. The easiest things like that I was lazy about. However, after I became the president of Dongguk I marginally changed. Now I try to do the occasional helpful chore at home like folding blankets.

Q. If there were such a thing as a time machine and you could revisit the past, which time would you want to go back to?
A. I would like to go back to my time at university. While some people might say that they would like to play more, or would like to have lived a life with more passion, I would like to have studied and read more about history and philosophy. Actually, I would like to have learned more diverse languages, but I think it is too late for that and would be less useful at this stage in my life. Instead, I would like to expand the scope of my thinking and one way to do that would be reading and studying a lot more about history and philosophy.

Q. You were selected as one of 2013’s most influential 33 CEOs of Korea. What do you think about your role as a leader and your leadership style that has been characterized as “calm leadership?”
A. I do not know much about leadership or what is meant by calm leadership. However, what I do know is that the basic of leadership is having trust amongst people. If there is no trust, then there will be no one who is willing to follow the leader. Similarly, the way that I have helped to raise funds for Dongguk is by showing that we can be trusted to use the money for Dongguk’s development and we are open to explaining how that money is being used. Through trust Dongguk has been developing, and I think “trust” should be a basic principle for all Donggukians.

Q. Two years have already passed since you became the 17th president of Dongguk University. By the time you retire, what would you like your legacy to be?
A. If I could obtain one thing from Dongguk, I would like to hear others say that I was a fine president of Dongguk University who could always be trusted.

Kim Ji-yeon  tj703@dongguk.edu

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