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A Spokeswoman Working in the Limelight
An interview with former gov't spokesperson and international lawyer Mira Sun
Jeong Jae-seok (internews)     Print Article 
Published 2008-02-27 09:35 (KST)   
The following is an edited article from the second OhmyNews English News Camp, held at our Ganghwa Island school, Feb. 23-24. Thirteen students aged 14-18 took part in learning the ABCs of news writing and interviewing international lawyer Mira Sun. More articles will be published on OhmyNews International after our third camp in March.  <Editor's Note>
"I wished so many times it was somebody else. Not me," said Mira Sun, former presidential secretary of overseas communication, in an interview with students at OhmySchool. She expressed how much a secretary suffers under conditions of extreme levels of pressure and responsibility.

Ms. Sun worked for President Roh Moo-hyun for two years communicating his official comments to the international press. This meant that she took all responsibility for what was relayed to the foreign press. Her responsibilities were so all-consuming that she wasn't able to have a personal life, she explained.

"There was an address in the morning, and so all people including myself stayed up all night in order to keep repeating and revising," she recalled, explaining the situation that took place after a missile launch by North Korea.

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She said that she had a hard time, especially working with translations, because of the fact that there are multiple ways to deliver a single meaning. She had to consider the ways and words that reflected each statement in the most faithful and accurate manner. Some concepts were simply impossible to translate perfectly from the original.

She was satisfied with her job, however, and proud of Korea and president Roh. Despite many politicians and critics laying blame on the president's policies and the consequences of his actions as president, she never thought that what they were doing was wrong. She described her work as the most difficult job she's ever done, but also the most challenging and rewarding.

She stressed the gravity of being secretary of overseas communication. When she went abroad assisting the president, she would have to field three different phone calls at the same time from various media outlets; one from the foreign press based locally, another from foreign press based in other countries, and finally, calls from press based in Korea.

"I would have to give the most accurate information possible," she said.

In a question from one of the students, she was asked what is the most important thing required when dealing with the foreign press from her perspective as a spokesperson to the president. She answered with confidence that it's "integrity".

"You must speak to them frankly. If you can't answer, you have to say that the question has not been decided yet."

This is because every word she said had consequences, so honesty was a necessity.

She was the longest-serving spokewoman ever and she feels that her heart remains, to some degree, at that job, despite the fact that she has since gone back to working at a law firm.

"If I'm not happy with what I'm doing, I don't put in the effort, and I know that it's time to quit the job. But at the moment I am consistently satisfied with my work," she said.

Although she never wanted to be a public figure, at the end of the interview she was applauded by 13 students who would always remember her.
Jeong Jae-seok is a high school student in Seoul.
©2008 OhmyNews

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