In the summer of 1998, during the US Women’s Open Championship, a golf ball is hit into the very edges of a pond. It is the last hole that will decide the winner of the entire match, yet the ball is nowhere near it, barely holding over a few strands of grass before tumbling into the water. What should a player have done? She should have received penalty points and started all over again. What did Pak Seri do? She started to take her shoes off. At the age of 20, her barefooted swing brought her to victory in the 1998 US Women’s Open. She has won in 24 LGPA tours, 5 Major tournaments, and was the youngest player to have ever had her name in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Many female golfers, so-called Seri Kids, started to appear after Seri’s astounding achievements in golf history. Her character is allegedly known to be tough as nails, yet it is in this disposition that we can find a face we can look up to as a role model. The Sookmyung Times (SMT) would like to introduce the golf princess of Korea and sister to all, Pak Seri (SERI).
SMT Although you have devoted most of your childhood to golf, you entered SMU as a Political Science and International Relations student. What was the reason?
SERI It was a decision that reflected my wish to contribute to international exchanges and relations. During my LGPA tour (tournaments held by the Ladies Professional Golf Association), I was the representative of South Korea in many different cities and countries. I felt a sense of duty to set a good example for our country, which made me want to apply for the Department of Political Science and International Relations.
SMT Golf has yet to become a familiar sport to the people at large. Do you think it is necessary for this somewhat costly sport to be popularized?
SERI It is true that there exists some foam on top of the golf costs. Therefore, if golf were to be popularized, it would gain price competitiveness and will ultimately become a more approachable area. Also, when I think of all the excellent golf players that represent our country, and bring back superior results despite the not-so convenient circumstances, I always wish that the masses were provided with better opportunities.
SMT You have once described your father as the man who “has never taught me how to rest.” What does your father mean to you in your life?
SERI He is like a lamplight to me. I do not know where to start, but in terms of my golf career, my father is the one who has inspired me the most. He was the one who first handed me a golf club, and the one who gave me the pitiless training sessions. However, even until today, whenever I go out on a tour, my father never cuts back on his advice, encouragement, and cheers. To me, my father is a friend, a senior, and a man I respect.
SMT Recently, you have announced your ambition to participate in future competitions as a coach, to make way for your juniors. What kind of senior do you wish to become towards your juniors?
SERI The most important aspect of a golf senior to fulfill is setting a good example. I believe that it is crucial for a golf player to always be thankful towards the people who cheer you on, and to constantly show kindness to them. A senior should, instead of always trying to give juniors a hard time, focus on maintaining the behavior of a professional golfer on and off the course.
SMT Due to your nearly flawless golf records, there must be struggles in meeting the high expectations of our country’s people each time you enter another tournament. Has this acted as poison or, perhaps, medicine?
SERI I have never thought of it as something harmful. It was their attention that has brought me to where I stand today, and I thank their concerns and support daily. I consider their interests in me the reason I have been able to succeed in every tournament so far.
SMT Finally, what does SMU mean to you?
SERI A name that I will, with pride, continue to shine. It is an honor to work in society as a Sookmyungian. As the status of women is improving, the fact that many Sookmyung graduates are working in all different kinds of areas that demand for more woman power gives me strength. I, too, would like to strive for a better life in order to become a person who makes our society, as well as the honor of SMU, illuminate.