Christopher Hale received a B.S. in Foreign Service and an undergraduate certificate in Asian Studies from Georgetown University in 2001. He is also the winner of the Joseph S. Sebes S.J. Medal in Asian Affairs, a special recognition awarded annually by the Asian Studies Faculty Committee to a student who combined excellence in the study of Asia with the dedication to the advancement of understnading of Asian affairs. After graduation, Chris conducted research in South Korea as a Fulbright Fellow. He is a two-time recipient of the Korea Foundation Graduate Studies Fellowship.
A member of the New York and U.S. Supreme Court bars, Chris holds a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and Managing Editor of the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. Chris is currently an Attorney at Microsoft Corporation and advises the company on cyber-security law and policy matters. Previously, he served as an Attorney-Advisor in the U.S. Department of Justice's National Security Division, an Advisor in the U.S. Department of Treasury's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, and an Associate at the Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. He serves on the Board of Advisors of the Sejong Society of Washington, D.C., an academic nonprofit organization affiliated with the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and dedicated to promoting understanding of U.S.-Korea relations among young professionals. Christopher has published several articles on the legal and economic systems of North and South Korea in Asian studies and law journals.
Below is our interview with Christopher:
1. Can you tell us about yourself and what got you interested in Asian Studies?
I’m half-Korean, son of a U.S. Army soldier who met my mother when he was stationed in South Korea in the mid-1970s. I grew up in Alaska and Indiana, and until coming to Georgetown I had little interest or knowledge of Asia. That all changed at Georgetown. I greatly enjoyed all of my classes on Asian Studies–they were by far my favorite while a student in SFS. I particularly enjoyed studying Korean affairs, because by becoming familar with the transition that Korea has made in the short time since the end of the World War II, you really get an understanding of various political, economic, and social systems that have existed in similar forms across the world throughout history. And of course, the culture, food, TV dramas and music are somewhat addictive. I also had a strong interest in learning more about North Korea, and pursued that interest by writing my undergraduate thesis on the North Korean legal system.
2. How did the Asian Studies Undergraduate Certificate Program prepare you for the challenges and opportunities you face today?
I graduated from Georgetown in May 2001. I greatly benefited from the Asian Studies certificate program because of the great professors and courses asociated with the program. Professor David Steinberg, my advisor, encouraged me to pursue my interest in both Korean affairs and law to study Korean law, and his encouragement helped me to publish some articles on that topic, go to Korea on a Fulbright research felllowship, and continue this interest into law school and my career for the U.S. government. In particular, my interest in North Korea was nourished by the great faculty including David Steinberg, Victor Cha, and Bonnie Oh (not to mention Robert Gallucci, who was dean at the time). Without that environment which encouraged me to pursue my interst in North Korea, my life would have gone a very different path. For example, I probably wouldn’t have gotten a Fulbright fellowship to Korea, which in turn made my application more interesting to law school admissions folks, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten the job at the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, which transitioned me to where I am today.
3. Tell us about your professional experience in the years following your graduation from Georgetown.
After I graduated from Georgetown, I did a Fulbright research fellowship in South Korea, where I wrote articles on North Korea and interned at the Korea Institute for National Unification and the U.S. embassy in Seoul. I then went to law school. After graduating from Columbia Law, where I was active in the Center for Korean Legal Studies, I worked for a couple years as a corporate lawyer at a law firm called Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. I then worked for five years for the U.S. government–both at the Treasury Department’s Office of Terorrism and Financial Intelligence and the Justice Department’s National Security Division. I’m currently working as in-house counsel at Microsoft in the Seattle area, focusing on cybersecurity law and policy and eating all the good Asian food out here. I currently serve on the board of advisors of the Sejong Society of Washington, DC, a nonprofit organization that aims to cultivate the next generation of American specialists on Korean affairs, and that regularly has academic and networking events in DC.
4. What advice would you give to prospective/current students at Georgetown?
Do what you love. Study what you love. Undergraduate life is a time to really pursue your passion – if that passion doesn’t happen to be finance or computer science or something that is immediately salable on the market, don’t worry, as you’ll get have plenty of time to get those skills either in grad school or on the job. Also, keep a good balance with your academic life, social life, and spiritual life.
"In particular, my interest in North Korea was nourished by the great faculty including David Steinberg, Victor Cha, and Bonnie Oh (not to mention Robert Gallucci, who was dean at the time). Without that environment which encouraged me to pursue my interst in North Korea, my life would have gone a very different path. For example, I probably wouldn’t have gotten a Fulbright fellowship to Korea, which in turn made my application more interesting to law school admissions folks, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten the job at the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, which transitioned me to where I am today."