When we meet friends in everyday life, we unknowingly distinguish between liberal arts and natural sciences majors. For example, after eating and counting the bill in a restaurant, we say, “You studied natural sciences. Calculate the total cost.” Also, when we see a different word, we say, “You were a liberal arts major! What does this word mean?” Thus, liberal arts and natural sciences are treated as totally different fields in our lives. But here is a man who is able to do the job of an oriental doctor and a judge, which are considered to be the best jobs in liberal arts and natural sciences. This man is Chu, Jin-Seok, a graduate of the department of oriental medicine, Kyungwon University, who is the first oriental doctor-turned-judge and now works as a judge in Guangju. Let’s find out how he could challenge these two different professions.
1. You passed the bar exam quickly although you had a secure job as an oriental doctor. Did you have an earnest goal that you wanted to be a judge?
First, the biggest reason is that my close family was the victim of a medical accident malpractice but they lost a trial due to the lack of evidence. Frankly speaking, I prepared for the bar exam because I wanted to change the people’s prejudice. My high school reunion was held, but they didn’t invite me. When I asked them why they didn’t invite me, they said only the students from universities in Seoul gather. Furthermore, a friend whom I happened to meet said, “Why don’t you take the bar exam?” So I started to prepare for the bar exam. But, when I prepared for it, I didn’t want to be a judge. I thought I might be a prosecutor. Fortunately, I received a good record so became a judge. Of course I didn’t just follow my test result. I decided to be a good lawyer and turned to being a judge. But the job as a judge has many advantages. So I like my job. I think I started this because of a challenging spirit rather than an earnest goal.
2. I think oriental doctors and judges are totally different fields. Didn’t you have any difficulty when studying? And do you have your own way of studying?
I didn’t feel much difficulty. Oriental medicine was very difficult for me to study because this field treats metaphysical things and it didn’t fit my aptitude. But studying for the bar exam fit me, so it was much easier than studying oriental medicine. My studying method is, ‘Nun ae barunda’, in Korean which is used by the majority of people who prepare for the bar exam. This method means you look over the contents lightly several times rather than study deeply. For example, just before the examination starts, we look for the keywords quickly and take an examination. Also the amount of studying for the bar exam is heavy, so you need the confidence that you can remember what you’ve studied until the tests are over. Whoever prepares for the bar exam, studies very hard. So I think the outcome depends on how much confidence they have.
3. There is a trend that oriental medicine is losing ground with the expansion of western medicine. Are there legal problems related to this? And is there any legal way to solve this problem?
It’s serious. It gets into legal problems because there’s a fine line between oriental medicine and western medicine. The biggest problem is related with the fact that new medical treatments are continuously introduced but judges are not interested in them and do not have knowledge about them. Furthermore, it is difficult to know all new medical treatments even for someone like me who had studied medicine. So there are many legal problems as to how to distinguish between these two fields. I think western medicine’s broad-mindedness is the solution. Oriental medicine is not agreeable to modern people’s sentiment because it is metaphysical. So I think oriental medicine doesn’t gain as much trust as western medicine does. But the traditional methods which have treated sick people in our country are mostly oriental medicine. So I think even though the two things have different approaches to treat sick people, they have the same purpose of treatment. There is no one single answer. Therefore, I think western medicine needs to be broad-minded and coexist with oriental medicine.
4. I wonder what you experienced as an oriental doctor. You studied the oriental medicine in college. Don’t you have any regret or worry when you decided to work in the field of law?
When I entered the department of oriental medicine, there were nation-wide disputes between pharmacists and oriental medicine majors. All pharmacists and oriental medicine students demonstrated and refused to take part in classes. So all oriental medicine colleges cancelled classes for one and a half years. Of course, I didn’t study myself while in college. I passed the national exam but I didn’t study oriental medicine hard. So I have regrets that I should have studied oriental medicine much harder. I still think I want to do this again when I open my oriental medicine books at home. But now I am a judge and still getting used to the job. So I am only thinking (laugh). Nevertheless, when I am completely adapted to my job and have the time, I want to start to study oriental medicine again.
5. I heard you enjoy both studying and club activities. What do you think a meaningful school life is?
I joined a club named ‘West Wind’ when I was a student. I met my wife in this club. But we started going out together after graduation. When my wife was a sophomore, she confessed to me that she liked me. But our club prohibited dating, so I refused her. Now I regret it (laugh). It is good to take part in club activities but don’t focus on them. The most important thing is studying. I think failure for youth can be meaningful since they can challenge again. It is easier to challenge new things. I hope you do not spend your precious time too much on club activities but study hard for your future dream.
6. Can you give advice to students who are confused between dreams and reality?
All of us imagine ourselves becoming successful when we challenge new things. But if we fail, we don’t feel good and finally we give up. Of course, when we fail, we don’t feel good. But if we want to be less stressed when we fail, I think we need to think realistically rather than imagine ourselves becoming successful. If you fail, I hope you think this is a way to success and don’t give up. And I think even success does not give us as much happiness as we imagine. If you achieve goals and maintain them, you should study and make an effort incessantly. Even after I became a judge, I also studied the basic books continuously. I think if I had thought in this way, I could have lived a more fruitful life. I hope everyone goes forth towards a goal more effectively than I.
We want to do something for a while, but we give up because we think ‘I’m already late.’, ‘I should have started a little earlier.’ But if you watch TV programs or your surroundings, you can find someone who challenges new things continuously. For example, a man in his sixties still dreams about traveling around the country by motorcycle. Also, a man and a woman in their eighties meet their first love and start over. However old you are doesn’t matter in challenging. That age keeps us from doing something, is a mere excuse. The moment that you don’t know how to start is the first step to a challenge. If you don’t give up and challenge the goal, you won’t regret what you have done.
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