B. When I was 11 years old, one of the most agonizing things in my life was that I had to lie. My mother was running a small business, and she sustained a big loss from a fraudulent customer. Creditors often made threatening calls to my mother. Whenever I received such calls, I had to lie about her absence, and having been taught to be honest, this was more agonizing than leaving our house with a small garden where I had planted rose bushes.
My mother passed away of cancer when I was 15 years old. And I immersed myself in literature and music in order to forget the sad reality. I read almost all the books in the school library, and every night I listened to Rachmaninoff and Beatles using an old audio cassette player.
In 1988, I became the highest scorer in the Korean National College Entrance Exam, and I was admitted to the Seoul National University, College of Law. However, my success was followed by emptiness. I was not sure how much law could contribute to the happiness of people. These doubts led me to study poverty, discrimination, and environmental issues in Korea.
After college, I passed the National Judicial License Exam and I became a judge. From the early days as a judge, I realized how greatly law affects individuals’ life and how many people suffer without the protection of the law.
While in the Judicial Research and Training Institute, with some of my peers, I opened an online free legal advice program for needy people. Later on while working at the Seoul Administrative Court, I devoted myself to protecting individuals whose rights had been violated by the government. In 2001 as I became interested in the life of transgenders who suffer from contempt under the influence of Confucianism traditions, I wrote a paper advocating reassigning of legal genders for transgenders. As many judges began sympathizing with my advocacy, court decisions to permit legal gender reassignment to transgenders began to emerge starting late 2002.
In 2004, as I began working at the bankruptcy division of Seoul Central District Court, I became more interested in helping delinquent debtors. In the meantime, I read “The Two‐Income Trap” co‐authored by Professor Elizabeth Warren of Harvard Law School. Based on “The 2001 Consumer Bankruptcy Project” at Harvard, this book analyzes the causes of an increase in individual bankruptcy filings in the USA. I was moved by Professor Warren’s deep affection for people as well as her keen analysis which are permeated throughout the book. This book led me to apply for the Harvard Law School.
After reading Professor Warren’s book, I wrote an essay titled “What is Bankruptcy” in hopes of widely communicating the plight of debtors and the importance of bankruptcy process. This essay was featured in the Segye Daily, a nationwide newspaper, as a front‐page article of the “Society” news section. Subsequently, the article was reprinted in dozens of internet websites attracting a lot of attention from the public. Since then, I have responded to consulting requests from the media, the National Assembly, the Ministry of Justice and others interested in helping delinquent debtors.
Korea is scheduled to put the Bankruptcy Bill in operation. The bill adopts many of the features of the U.S. bankruptcy law. In this regard, exact understanding of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and related laws could be very important. Without hesitation, I’m applying only to Harvard Law School in hopes of learning from the world’s top professors. After studying at Harvard and returning home, I will continue various activities such as authoring books, lecturing, and participating in the bankruptcy reform legislation.
I support an orphanage called “Gemma Home”. Many children are left there because their parents could not raise them due to poverty. Whenever I visit with them, I see myself of age 11. I had lost some of the most valuable things, but I overcame these challenges to achieve success. However, living happily ever after cannot be the end of my fairy tale. I’d like to share this small gift which God blessed me with in creating a better world where children can be happier.


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