MARQUETTE — The outcome of Wednesday’s presidential election in South Korea may hinge in part on the work of Northern Michigan University alumnus YoungJong Lee.
A media production graduate in 2012, she spends almost all of her waking hours working on the campaign of running candidate Lee Jae-myung.
As deputy director of citizenship strategy, Lee organized more than 20,000 supporters for Jae-myung, who is the former governor of Gyeonggi province. He has now moved on to a new role as director of sustainability for the campaign.
After the presidential election, Lee plans to pursue his own political aspirations by running for state senator in South Korea.
“I expect it will take me almost two years to get my supporters first,” said Lee. “Through working on this campaign, I have learned how to organize supporters and connect with fellow politicians. Regardless of the results of the presidential election, I would like to help more Korean students discover the value of the NMU in the near future.
“NMU faculty and staff are open-minded and kind to international students. It is significant that the NMU is advancing in the world and the global community by understanding humanity and diversity.
Lee was a student at the Seoul Institute of the Arts when one of his Korean teachers, NMU alumnus JiHung Chang, introduced him to Northern. Lee decided to complete his bachelor’s degree in America. He became the first international student lecturer at the start of an NMU.
“What I loved the most as a student was the NMU community,” said Lee. “Marquette’s teachers, staff and citizens have always been very kind and caring to me, and without any barriers, I was able to adapt to a new adventure: studying abroad. It was a good time, communicating and studying with the NMU people.
“Above all, NMU is the best place to experience American culture and learn English. When I was there, there were no Korean students except me, so I could have many international friends, including the United States and China. Based on this experience, I am currently doing very well in global business. »
Lee decided to study media production at NMU and said the field studies course was especially important for his profession. He thanks communications and media studies professors Dwight Brady and the late Chuck Ganzert for their assistance with the academics and graduate application process.
Brady remembers presenting Lee with a Supreme Court case in a media law class that changed the trajectory of his career.
“The court’s decision in the 2010 Citizens United case is one of the most significant First Amendment cases of the past 50 years because it dramatically changed American policy,” Brady said. “It has essentially allowed unlimited amounts of money, which cannot be traced back to donors, to flow into our political races. Lee took a great interest in this case and made it the subject of his master’s thesis at Northwestern University.
Brady said that despite a slight language barrier, Lee performed exceptionally well in his classes and developed a keen interest in politics.
After completing his master’s degree at Northwestern, Lee returned to Korea. He became a key part of Lee Jae-myung’s campaign against his main rival, Yoon Suk-yeol.