Professionalism encompasses a number of different attributes such as specialized knowledge, competence, accountability, honesty, and integrity.
Professionalism is much practiced in sports by professional players rather than amateurs. However, it can also be practiced in many other professional fields including business, art, music, and even in politics.
In today's world, there are numerous professionals who are respected nationally or internationally for their true professionalism.
In this article, I would like to cite three Korean figures who have recently demonstrated high professionalism in the fields of sports, government service and policymaking. They are true professionals, trying to make our society or world a better place to live in.
Our first figure is Park Hang-seo. He is head coach of both the Vietnam National Football Team and that country's National U-23 (under-23) Squad. Recently he has become a national hero in Vietnam.
The Vietnamese affection for Park has soared across Vietnam after he led the U-23 team to the final match of the Asian Football Confederation U-23 Championship.
The sports section of Tuoi Tre, a major Vietnamese newspaper, was full of news related to Coach Park. Vietnamese people call him, "Uncle Park." They highly praise Uncle Park for his outstanding performance in training youth athletes.
The Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) uploaded the video of the U-23 Vietnamese team in its final match to YouTube on Jan. 27. Its heart-warming scenes drew much attention of both Vietnamese and Korean audiences.
An escalating series of football game successes has got Vietnam dreaming of a maiden appearance at the World Cup in the near future.
Through Park's true professionalism and Vietnam's super football performances have contributed to bringing Korea and Vietnam much closer. The true friendship between the two partners will help them transcend the old miserable legacy of the Vietnam War.
Our next figure is Choi Jong-ku. He is chairman of the Financial Services Commission who is receiving much of public attention for his outstanding professionalism.
Choi became a career official after passing the civil service examination. Since he assumed the current position in July 2017, he has emphasized the importance of financial inclusion of low-income earners.
With the deterioration of the business environment and financial conditions, low-income borrowers were forced to borrow from nonbank financial companies, often at exorbitant interest rates.
Chairman Choi pushed forward financial inclusion to strengthen the financial safety net for those financially marginalized to help them stand on their own feet. Yet there still exist concerns and criticism that such policy may cause any possibility of moral hazard.
In December 2018, Chairman Choi proposed a wide-ranging reform to the financial system, seeking a right balance between two policy goals: strengthening the financial safety net and preventing moral hazard.
The reform proposal is designed to provide low-credit borrowers, who are usually denied access to bank loans, with lower interest rate loans, accompanied with credit consulting and other welfare assistance, in an attempt to improve their debt serving ability.
The proposal also aims to restructure debt for borrowers under excessive burdens, with their repayment ability taken into consideration so that they can afford to repay their remaining debt. We hope his balanced approach will become another success story of genuine professionalism.
Lawmaker Choi Woon-youl is another figure who has received much public attention lately. He is a well-trained economist. He built up his reputation in the academic profession. He had spent more than 30 years at Sogang University as a scholar before becoming a lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea in 2016.
Although belonging to the ruling party, he often speaks up like an opposition party member in the process of lawmaking. Particularly in the area of economic policy, he often takes the opposition position criticizing his colleagues at parliamentary seminars.
He is critical of ruling party members who are blindly against family-controlled conglomerates, or chaebol. He raises his voice that lawmakers should be able to distinguish between chaebol and chaebol chairmen because large-scale businesses are highly recommendable in global competition.
He also said, "It is deplorable that the current regime is pro- labor union rather than pro-labor because it is only reducing the number of jobs." We hope that his genuine professionalism will push our economy forward.
Dr. Jeffrey I. Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org), former foreign investment ombudsman, is a professor emeritus at Sungkyunkwan University. He earned a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Chicago and taught at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the American University, Washington, D.C.