SMT What was the center of your university life at SMU?
LEE My university life was mostly spent on my participation in the Sookmyung Broadcasting System and part-time jobs. I must have tried a million different jobs, from recording bus announcements to working in pubs. I actually worked at the pub for only four days and quit, but the boss refused to pay me the money I earned. I didn’t back down, and kept my spot until he finally paid me what I deserved, which was about 15,000 won. I went straight to the bakery to buy a 12,000 won cake, went straight back to the pub, left the cake on the table for the boss and fellow employees to eat, and exited the premises. I grew up in a fairly conservative family, and went to an all girls’ middle school, high school, and university. I wanted to experience as much of the society as possible, and there was no better place to gain such lessons than from part-time jobs, where you are basically paid to learn about how the community goes round. What I do feel regretful about my university life is dating.
SMT Do you have your own dating philosophy?
LEE I am one who believes in love for love’s sake. There is nothing that makes a person more generous and happier than being in love. However, I think that today’s dating is a little bit different from our time. In our days, it took forever just to hold hands for the first time, and a first kiss was an event that we would never be able to forget. Yet I wonder if today’s lovers feel the heart-throbbing that we used to feel. For example, let us say that it took three months for a couple in our time to hold hands, and only three hours for the young couples of the present. At the first contact of skin, although the touch and body temperature is the same, the memories will have so much difference in their significance when looking back in time.
SMT As the first ever female weather forecaster, despite the responsibility of being the first, and the warnings from the broadcasting system, you always tried to deliver the news in an innovative and challenging way.
LEE I was the first to ever wear a raincoat during a weather forecast. I also once took off my cardigan during the on-air news to show how warm the weather was at that time. Although many of my superiors told me to tone it down, I never did. The weather can immensely influence a person’s feelings. It can change what they want to do during the day, where they want to go, or what kind of music they want to listen to. On a clear bright sunny day, people want to go to the beach. On a rainy day, people want to stay in and listen to music. When the weather practically controls the state of mind and the weather forecaster just plainly reads what is written on the script, “Today’s weather is sunny,” do you think the people will actually be able to “feel” the news? Forecasting the weather requires sensibility and a deep understanding of people. Rain can be bad news to the general masses, but extremely good news to, perhaps, and old farmer who has been waiting for some rain to save his crops. By adding sensibility to my forecasts, the audience can more fully appreciate the weather news.
SMT You are the president of the Weather Forecasters Association. Could you explain the purpose of its establishment?
LEE One aim was to increase the development of more professionalism by sharing useful information amongst fellow weather forecasters. We had no community, and our occupation was free lance, so there weren’t many opportunities to meet up with each other. Another aim was to prevent any violations of our civil rights as a weather forecaster. In the case of announcers, when any of them were treated unfairly by a broadcasting system, the Announcer Association would send a complaint and protect the announcer. However, before our community was set up, as most of us weather forecasters were free lancers with no definite affiliation to any company, we were easily fired or put in an insecure spot. We also hoped to improve the unstable employment circumstances of the weather forecast occupation.
SMT Some are skeptical about the idea of the Weather Forecasters Association doing volunteer work as their main activities. They argue that it is only done for the purpose of giving a good impression to society.
LEE I want to ask, is it such a bad thing to want to give a good impression to society? If we weather forecasters did a good deed, and it improved our image, then we would be happy. However, what I would like to make clear is that it is not our primary goal. If that were so, we would have used the media to positively promote every single one of our volunteer actions. That was not the case. After a typhoon passed, we all went to the Han-River Park to clean up the mess, wearing hats and hoods so no one knew who we were. We would clean up the park, take a couple of photos, and post it on our SNS pages. That’s usually it.
SMT You used to give lectures on “How to live as a Pro.” What is your definition of a professional?
LEE I have seen many professionals in all kinds of fields, and have come to the conclusion that they all share two main characteristics. First of all, they have dignity. Now, there are two definitions to the word dignity, and most people think of the first meaning, which is being “arrogant and pretentious about one’s position.” I always remember the next definition, which is“respecting one’s own personality, taking pride, and maintaining one’s poise.” All professionals have dignity in themselves and their own work, and this is one of the factors that have brought them to where they stand today. Another characteristic professionals share is consistency. It is different from simple diligence. People with consistency never falter in making an effort and have the endurance to not take a rest. So, try starting anything. Start an activity, and work on it a little by little each day. For example, if you are a movie maniac, write a little review after each movie you watch. With consistency, in just no time, you will find you have made a book’s-worth of writings. While being a mentor for many students, I have always noticed how impatient and restless they are, and this makes me laugh. Even people like me, who hate wasting a single second, get something out of fooling around for a whole three months; the lesson is that you get tired of fooling around if you do it for too long. Those three months did not go to waste, because I got something out of it. There is a poem by Robert Frost called ‘The Road Not Taken.’ It is about a fork in the road, and regretting not taking the other path after already going down another one . We tend to take the wide road with lots of people in it, but why play it safe? Why not venture down a narrow desert path? After all, clearing up the twigs and thorns that block your way will definitely not go to waste.