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“I Want to Be a Researcher with His Own Personality and Identity.”

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  • Registration Date : 2019-12-31
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A Conversation with Alumni

“I Want to Be a Researcher with His Own Personality and Identity.”

Kim Tae-hong (Completed Dual Master’s and PhD Program at UST-Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI) Campus, Advanced Information Science Major, Graduated in 2014, Currently Working at Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine)

On a winter day when rain drops softly saturate the soil, we met alumnus Kim Tae-hong at Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine. During an hour-long interview with him, we noticed something special about him: he never ceased to face a challenge to make himself better, even paying attention to small details and to make utmost effort. It was the interview that brought us to thinking of our “attitude in life.” We hope this message from him is conveyed to our readers.

“Sense of Direction,” the Best Thing in Life that UST Offered

It was 2006 when Kim was part of a company in charge of building the database for KISTI. This work naturally led him to interacting with researchers at KISTI, which ignited his desire to be part of this type of work. When he began to notice his aspirations and passion for research that had been veiled deep in his heart, his destiny led him to UST. He was in his early 30s. He entered UST for a master’s degree and started his graduate school in KISTI campus.

“I considered studying at UST as an investment for developing myself. That’s why I wasn’t anxious to get a degree for my age back then. I just thought if I can’t get a degree in due time, I’ll get a job.”

A bold investment for himself and setting a definite goal: they seem to come from his desperate desire to achieve his goal. Kim was a devoted student. He built a solid foundation, establishing his research and relationships with people around him step by step. We asked him, “What did you gain from your time at UST?”

“A doctor who was working with me one day told me, ‘Tae-hong, in living our life, the order of things might be important but having a consistent sense of direction is more crucial than anything else. Though you didn’t follow the conventional order of how things should be, I believe you are on the right direction of your life. I’m always rooting for you.’ It was deeply touching. That led me to think that though I mixed up some procedures, I fulfilled the elements of essentials with passion for what I want to do. Particularly after I started working at KIOM, I set the direction of my research and has been sticking with it. In that sense, I can say that UST granted me a sense of direction.”

Connecting the Dots: Every Moment Is Eventually Connected

Kim gave a special lecture on Nov. 6, an event hosted by the vice president of KISTI. He openly shared realistic advice with UST students as an alumnus. Among many, we narrowed down the ones that would be most helpful.

The highlight of Kim’s advice was “connecting the dots.” Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, left the famous quote: “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something?your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.” His words suggest the significance of the actions and attitude.

UST presents its students the opportunity to study and research at the institutions, along with the institutions’ finest equipment and best qualified faculty members. Kim, however, suggests students think more critically on this; these are the advantages that institutions offer, not UST. To bring them to UST, the effort from students are prerequisite.

“When I first started the study, I determined that if I want to learn, I should offer something in return. Even for something trivial like picking up trash, filling up the water tank or cleaning the conference room, I wanted to make effort. That’s why I advise students to change their mind a little bit. When you become close enough, you should start building a relationship with researchers around you at least as much as knowing their children’s name. That intimacy makes a true team that makes researchers want to foster and empower students.”

Kim still tries to get to know and be close to anyone he has to work with first. Regardless of how trivial it is, he knows that it will be one of the dots that will be connected. When trying to continue marking the dots, they will eventually meet at one point.

Academic Advisor who Transformed His Attitude in Life

To Kim, academic advisor Professor Jung Han-min meant a lot: he changed Kim’s attitude toward life. When we asked what the most memorable advice from his professor was, Kim mentioned “attitude.”

“Professor Jung always told me it depends on me if I can learn or not because wherever and whenever it is, everyone has something to learn from. I always remind myself of his advice. I try to motivate myself by meticulously observing the passionate lives other people lead.”

Kim will continue his research on collecting, processing and integrating data to develop an AI doctor of Oriental Medicine. His short term goal is to smoothly end the year. In the long term, he aims to be a researcher with his own personality and clear identity.

Today’s interview made us think about “our attitude toward life.” That’s the reason we are wondering the path he will take in the future. We support the time that he has spent and that he will encounter in the future.