By: Chung Chung-Kil
Chung-Kil Chung ('10), Former President, University of Ulsan
Public Service Highlights: Former Chief of Staff to the President, The Blue House, Republic of Korea;
President, Korean Association of Public Administration
I became a government bureaucrat after graduate school. But I decided to study more and went to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Coming back to Korea, I became a professor at Seoul National University, and I liked the job. After 23 happy years of teaching, I accepted the job of the president of Ulsan University, where I worked very hard. At that time, George Frederickson gave me good advice.
George Frederickson was a wonderful scholar, as we all know. He was one of few big men, who gave me good ideas. When I became the president of Ulsan University, he sent me a letter in which he said, "University is a monster. Do not try your best. Nobody appreciates it. More devotion, more frustration." Excellent advice! Of course, I did my best. But, I never expected others' appreciation and so, was not much frustrated. I loved him and miss him very much.
President MB Lee of the Korean Government selected me as his Chief of Staff in June 2008 when I started my 6th year at Ulsan University. That job in the Korean Government has been one of the hardest and two full years served completely exhausted me. I got permission to resign in July of 2010, and in November of that year, I joined NAPA. It is a great honour.
Scholarly life has always been my dream. I have enjoyed teaching and writing. I am still teaching as a chaired professor at Ulsan University. I like pragmatic ideas to write for practical use by the government and I have written some articles and books in Korean, which I wish to translate into English someday.
The new President of Korea, Ms. Park came into power in February 2013 when I was working as the president of the National Academy of Korean Studies. The Academy job gave me a good opportunity to learn the histories and philosophies of China, Japan, and Korea. The new president had made many mistakes that bureaucrats expertise could have prevented, What was wrong? It was certain that the president did not permit any objection to her order. In the old days of Korea, especially in the 16th and 17th centuries, bureaucrats were believed to frequently oppose the king's irrational order and got prisoned or sentenced to death. Why the differences? I have been trying to find out the reasons for around 7 years continuously.
I am still searching for ways to encourage bureaucrats to prevent unreasonable changes in the existing policies of the Korean Government. Repeated ideological shifts of the ruling group, from right to left and from left to right and back again, have been creating many radical changes, producing much waste and damage. Change of President without ideological shift also makes similar problems. The possible answer, I am searching, for is two-track: to educate bureaucrats more devotional to fight against those bad changes and to make an environmental atmosphere to encourage those bureaucrats. This problem is too familiar to us. Yet, the feasible answer is not easy to find, especially regarding the education issue. If our dear fellows give me a good idea, I will really appreciate it.