The following is an interview with Faith Jo, who is currently working as an intern in the Law Library’s Global Legal Research Center. The Law Library is proud to host a number of interns each year from all over the world. We hope to post many more interviews with interns throughout the year!
Describe your background.
I grew up in Miryang, a beautifully landscaped city in South Korea. My family is somewhat bigger than is typical for my generation: I am the youngest of six sisters. My parents operate their own business in Miryang. When I was in elementary school, because my father often took me on his business trips to China and Hong Kong, it was not difficult for me to dream of working on an international stage in the future.
Since the age of twelve, I have dreamed of becoming a lawyer who is able to help underprivileged and oppressed people who do not have a voice of their own. While learning English in middle school, I decided I wanted to be an international lawyer; being an international human rights lawyer became another item on my dream list when I was in high school.
As for my background, I cannot leave out the fact that I was born into a Christian family. I am a third-generation Christian, because both of my grandparents were the first believers. I personally developed faith when I was a middle school student and, since then, the Bible has been the most important book of my life.
What is your academic/professional history?
I majored in Korean law (LL.B.) and minored in Management at Handong Global University and went on to receive a Masters of Law degree (J.D. equivalent) at Handong International Law School in 2009. Handong Global University was established in 1995 and its motto is “Why not change the world?” Currently, students from forty-one countries are studying at Handong, where a spirit of servant leadership (to be a leader, one should first serve others) is taught. The law school started in 2002, and it is the first American-style law school in Asia.
While I was in law school, I had two internship opportunities. In 2008, I worked with the immigration department at Hanul Law Office in Seoul. The other internship was at the Preda Foundation in the Philippines. Preda is an international NGO that rescues trafficked girls from bars and children from adult prisons. Three of my colleagues and I worked with a legal and rescue team. We went undercover as customers to the bars and monitored whether there were minors trafficked by human traffickers. We also regularly visited prisons to check if minors were illegally detained in the adult prisons. Meeting judges and writing letters to the prosecutors on behalf of Preda children were also part of our job. I still remember a 13-year-old boy’s smile from the day when he was rescued from the adult jail.
Right after law school, I interned at Kang Ho, an IP law firm in Seoul, and later, after taking the bar exam, I interned at the Foundation for Moral Law, located in Montgomery, Alabama. Justice Roy Moore, who was recently re-elected as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, was the founder of that organization and served as its president until last year.
I passed the Alabama bar in 2012. During the last five months, I had the great opportunity to work for Jubilee Campaign (an international NGO) located in Fairfax, Virginia. Ms. Ann Buwalda, who is a law professor and an immigration lawyer, started the organization twenty years ago. This NGO has a consultative status in the UN and has been helping those who are arbitrarily detained, trafficked, and persecuted on account of their faith, all over the world. The internship at Jubilee Campaign opened my eyes to how many NGOs in the Washington, DC area are working together with the U.S. government in an effort to bring justice and peace to the oppressed.
How would you describe your job to other people?
In my current internship at the Law Library of Congress I mainly work for Ms. Sayuri Umeda, a Senior Foreign Law Specialist in the Global Legal Research Center. I research laws and draft reports on legal issues in South and North Korea that are likely to affect or be of interest to the U.S. or international society. I have also been attending lectures and orientations held in the Library of Congress to improve my research skills.
Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?
I learned of this internship opportunity at the Law Library of Congress through a friend, Helen (Hyunjin) Lee, who worked as an intern here in 2010. I first met Helen at the Advocates Asia Conference in Sri Lanka in 2008. While I was working at the Jubilee Campaign last year, I told her that I was looking for another internship opportunity where I could improve my writing skills while utilizing my legal knowledge. It was a blessing for me that I saw her at the right time, and she introduced me to this internship program.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
When I went to the stacks in the sub-basement level with Ken, I was astonished by the size of the rooms (two football fields) and the volumes of stored law books. As a research intern, I wanted to say, “this sight gets me pumped up for work!” Since I have been working here, I have been able to access many Korean law books and theses. I really appreciate this great working environment.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
In 2005, I wrote a further item on my dream list: to be the president of United States. Much to my surprise, I learned that I needed to have been born in the territory of the United States in order to become the president…