[Review] Tuesdays with Human Asia
Jeongmin Lee, Wolgye High School
On October 25th, I attended Tuesdays with Human Asia, where lawyer Dongsu Yang gave a lecture about human rights. Lawyer Yang is a lawyer of Dongcheon Public Interest Foundation, an affiliate of the law firm, Bae Kim and Lee LLC (BKL). He works there as a pro bono manager. While he continues to work for public interest, he makes more efforts to connect pro bono lawyers to socially venerable people in need, because he thinks it is more suitable job for him. Many people wondered about Dongcheon’s precise roles, which BKL set up to promote public interest. So did I, when I first decided to attend the lecture.
However, while listening to lawyer Yang’s lecture—what he had done for years—my misconception totally changed. The lawyers in Dongcheon were constantly contemplating on what they could do to promote the public interest, and they actually put their ideas into action. They were sincere people who worked hard not only regarding legal matters but also for physical assistance for the vulnerable—carrying coal briquette, etc. Newly joined young lawyers are highly enthusiastic to when it comes to raising awareness on and enhancing public interest. However, enthusiasm is not all you need to promote public interest. Korea does not have well-established systems or social awareness to help the marginalized. Nevertheless, now that Korea has the foundation to increase public interest, which no other nations have, lawyers in Dongcheon are expected to achieve a lot.
Lawyer Yang said that the world where lawyers work for the public interest and the world where lawyers work for money are totally different. He explained that while many general lawyers work in fierce competition, there are not so many public interest lawyers yet in the field that the field is like a blue ocean, promising market with less competition. According to him, it is such an unexplored field that any lawyers can be an expert within about five years of experience in the field. He added that taking unfair profits rarely happens there. I was curious why he entered the field of public interest. He answered working at a law firm was fine but it didn’t feel exactly feel passionate about his job at the law firm. On the contrary, he felt happy working to promote public interest, though he couldn’t make a lot of money. That’s why he stepped into the field.
He said he realized how happy he was while talking to his fellow lawyers and judges who did not want to go back to work on Mondays. Compared to their reluctance to return to work on Monday, he told the audience that a person should do whatever made his or her heart thrilled. His lecture changed my view on the field of law. I used to have negative images about lawyers that they only care about empty formalities and that they were vain, but now perception has changed. The lecture made me believe that there are lawyers who are interested in promoting public interest and lawyers who have different set of values. It also gave me hope that socially venerable people can get legal help from lawyers like Lawyer Yang. It was pretty late evening and I was tired, but the lecture was worth attending.
Edited by Human Asia
Translated by Soonok Hwang (Ewha GSTI)