June, when the cherry blossoms that had been blooming until last spring fell and the whole world turns refreshing green with bright sunshine. SMT reporters went to meet today's interviewee who has been having busy days since the beginning of this year. She was working for minority and youths, having a belief ‘History is written when a minority becomes a majority’. SMT reporters met legislator Kim Sumin who participated in an interview with The Sookmyung Times as the Director of a Brand Hotel in the past and is now living a new life as a member of the 20th National Assembly.
Before getting started, what motivation did you work as a politician?
After I graduated the university, I started my start-up business with my college friends. During my start-up business, the company became the most famous company in the snack bag design in Korea by designing Honeybutterchip. However, one day, Ahn Cheolsoo came to set work of the party’s logo and the promotion of general election. At that time, the delegation said that he wanted to set work the logo to the start-up company because the party was a start-up party that was only two months from the beginning. At that time, I didn’t have much interest in politics, but since I met a member of the National Assembly, I thought there would be no chance for me again, so I asked several things I couldn’t understand about politics and told my opinions that politics should worry about the survival of young people frankly. Maybe he heard my opinions newly, so since then, I have been working on the party's promotion and the party has chosen me as a proportional representative. At that time, there were not many people who had a portfolio that all people knew and could quit other jobs for the proportional representative. Especially, there were not many young women. Those several factors made me be a member of National Assembly. This political participation has become a new turning point in my life.
You have been working on a lot of activities that give young people the opportunity like Naeil Ticket. Do you have any specific reason you are particularly interested in the fields of young people?
I like the saying, ‘If I don’t do anything, nothing changes.’ There are not so many chances to make a very big decision in life, but some trivial stories often may shake your values entirely. Instead of thinking when the situation draws near to you, I recommend that you have to think about who you are and what kind of values you have in usual. However, our young people are not able to have the time to think because of the education system. It is so pitiful for young people to think only how to make money and survive mostly. That’s why I wanted to create a system where young people can act, not stopping at complaining. I don’t know how long I will be in here, but it is my goal to build that system. At present, there are only budgetary support and policies that are too simple for young people. I think they need the power to change their lives and we should give them a way of using it instead of simple policies, so I made a Naeil Ticket which gives the power of legislation that only a few of the selected 300 people can do. In the Naeil Ticket, people can give opinions about the law, and it can be initiated.
What is the most impressive story that you remember while working as a congressperson?
Actually, I was doing the second Naeil Ticket with Sookmyungians, and after a few months, I heard a story from a student. One woman was unfairly fired just because she didn't make-up so that student looked the contents of law using the information she learned from the Naeil Ticket. Also, she didn’t stop at perceiving the problem, she also brought a bill request using the information. It was so touching to me because I could feel that some authority and power were handed over to the youth. I think that these small changes will allow young people to answer and government to respond to them. If they do so, the power can go more to those who are neglected economically and politically.
What do you think is the most important ability for politicians?
It’s imagination. There’s a story I come to this answer. There was a revolution among young people and workers in France in 1968. The slogan of young people from Paris University at that time was amazing. ‘All power to the imagination!’ I was stunned after hearing this slogan. In fact, there are many standards to evaluate politicians. People thought about politicians based on quantitative standards such as academic ability, wealth, and others. However, the most important ability for politicians is the imagination to dream the future. Everything including wealth and qualification is useless if there’s no imagination. It’s like a sporty car with nice engine displacement but without knowing where to go.
What is the most worthwhile project while you work as a congressperson?
Making ‘Naeil Ticket’ (naeil is translated to tomorrow), which is a democratic platform for young people to propose law directly, is the most worthwhile project to me. Before Naeil Ticket, lawmaking was limited power to a few people who were elected, but now, general citizens, who are not elected, can also contribute to lawmaking. However, I met many congresspersons in the older generation who oppose and show discomfort about the idea of Naeil Ticket. Nevertheless, I met young people who participated in Naeil Ticket and saw them resolve the real-world problem with the bill. While proposing law with Naeil Ticket, they could have a weapon to live in this tough world, and this was the weapon that no one single old generation grant them. It was a great opportunity for me to grant them this weapon. By making this democratic platform, I could scratch on the already-established power structure, which is meaningful to me more than making one specific law.
What was the difficulty you confront as a young politician?
I had and still have a difficulty of learning the knack. Politics, I think, is making one voice as much as possible when everyone has different thoughts. To do that, one needs to empathize to others’ emotion and situation, and you need to learn knack. However, the lack of knack can be related to young people's lack of experience, and I don't have a perfect solution. However, I think the imagination I mentioned earlier can be one solution. Until now, the evaluation of politicians was standardized, such as experience or wealth, but I think the criteria should be changed to imagination. Future politicians should have imagination of how to improve society. This is our young new politicians' challenge.
What do you think young politicians can overcome and make up for those limitations?
I think the imagination of young people is the way that they overcome their weakness. For example, when you stand a line in the order of height, the person in front of the line is different to line up in a tall order and line up in a short order. In other words, it means that the result is different depending on the criteria. I think that imagination of the future, such as what direction our society will go in the future, should be a top priority for the standards of future politicians. However, the reality is not that and the existing standards of politicians are deeply inherent in society. That’s why it has become a limitation that young politicians can't easily overcome, and I think all of these challenges are the task of young politicians who are united in imagination and courage.
Is there any activity or legislation you are planning?
A few months ago, former legislator Park Youngsun of Democratic Party proposed a bill to nominate candidates for the 50:50. It's a bill that requires the same ratio of male and female candidates at 50:50, and when I looked at this bill, I felt that I’m still lacking, I didn’t suspect what I take for granted, and I also thought ‘Why couldn't I think of it?’. So, I resolved to have a habit which is more suspicious, and I want to make more legislation that breaks the stereotype of what we take for granted until the day I'm a member of the National Assembly.
Lastly, please say something to Sookmyungians who are youths in Korea.
Actually, I think our Sookmyungians are doing great without giving advice. I always feel proud and special every time I meet Sookmyungians. Especially, I felt the emotional unity among Sookmyungians, and furthermore, that emotion and power were united in the voice of representing the economic and political weak in society. I don't doubt that our Sookmyungians have more possibilities and are doing the right thing.
- Representative of Young Party of Bareunmirae Party
- Member of the Supreme Council of Bareunmirae Party
- Regional Committee of Cheongwongu in Cheongju of Bareunmirae Party
- Member of Gender Equality and Family Committee of the Second Half of the 20th National Assembly
- Member of Culture, Sports & Tourism Committee of the Second Half of the 20th National Assembly
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