Sun Hoo Kim received a B.S. in Foreign Service and an undergraduate certificate in Asian Studies from Georgetown University in 2014. Following graduation, Mr. Kim began working for the Republic of Korea Armed Forces as an Interpreting Officer for the ROK Air Force. He currently serves as the Interpreter to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. Below is our short interview with Mr. Kim:
1. Please tell us about yourself. What led to your interests in Asian studies?
While at Georgetown, I was interested in a wide range of topics in international relations from international law and human rights to international security. I became particularly interested in Northeast Asia because it is a region where these topics are highly relevant. Liberal values are gradually taking root in China, and the lack of liberal values in North Korea poses an international humanitarian issue. This characteristic coupled with the rise of China and the nuclearization of North Korea, as well as the shifts in the military policies of Japan, South Korea, and the United States, will continue to complicate regional and global security. Because I found all of these issues fascinating the Asian Studies Program at Georgetown University, one of the best in the country, was an obvious choice for me.
2. How did the Asian Studies Program at Georgetown University prepare you for the challenges and opportunities you face today?
The biggest strength of the Asian Studies Program is its focus on current affairs. A large number of faculty members also work for government agencies or think tanks, or have done so in the past. As a result, they can provide insight on how to analyze the most important issues pertaining to Asia today. Such understanding of current affairs in Northeast Asia is of great help when I am translating for the Chairman because I can anticipate a good deal of what will be discussed. As long as I continue to work in issues related to Asia, my time with the Asian Studies Program will be a great asset.
3. What specific skills and knowledge did you gain from Asian Studies courses at Georgetown?
The Asian Studies Program provided me with tools with which I can understand the complexity of the situation in Asia as well as identify the key explanatory variable for different events and circumstances. Despite some criticism that it is inadequate to apply to Asia the theories that were developed in the West, the concept of neorealist balance of power plays an important role in Northeast Asia. At the same time, there are other significant factors such as trade, other economic interactions, historical grievances, and common interests including counter-terrorism that affect international relations in the region. Through the Asian Studies Program at Georgetown, I learned to understand the security issues in Northeast Asia through different lenses and perspectives.
4. What advice would you give to prospective/current students in the Asian Studies Program?
Its location in Washington, D.C., along with the qualified faculty, makes Georgetown University the perfect place to study current affairs in Asia. Both the university and the city provide valuable firsthand knowledge and experience that cannot be gained in the classroom alone. Therefore, my advice is that students should take advantage of the wealth of internship opportunities, speaker events, and other resources that only Georgetown and Washington, D.C. can offer.