How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation. 

The Ministry of the Interior and Safety (MOIS) is in charge of digital government. MOIS develops policies and strategies on digital government, and implements them across the government. Last year, it announced the Digital Government Innovation Plan for the whole of government and also revised the plan after the pandemic broke out early this year.

At the moment, MOIS is working to implement the revised plan with four priorities: expand non-contact digital government services, innovate government service delivery, create collaborative and inclusive digital ecosystem, and enhance digital infrastructure.

My division makes sure that Korea’s digital policies are aligned with the international discussions and staying relevant. In addition, it promotes peer learning by sharing experiences and best practices among countries. My role within the ministry is to participate in international discussions, negotiations as well as to promote bilateral and multilateral partnership including the Digital Nations, OECD E-Leaders, and RedGealc.

In today’s hyper connected society, an individual government cannot achieve a sustainable digital transformation. The international community needs to work together to set up principles, come up with guidelines, tackle emerging issues. I believe that everyone including myself who are in international cooperation are contributing to improving not only their own citizens’ lives but also those of our partner countries.

What was the most impactful project you worked on this year? 

This entire year has been quite impactful. Working in the area of international cooperation, I used to travel a lot for work, but this year, I have been grounded since February. Many worried that the pandemic would weaken international cooperation. On the contrary, this year has been one of the busiest years during my time with MOIS. Without constraints of travel time, budgets, and being jet lagged, I was able to participate in more discussions, webinars, etc. and also bring my colleagues on specific topics, connecting experts together in a more agile, active manner.

In the beginning of 2020, I had many opportunities to share Korea’s experiences on using technologies in the COVID-19 response, deploying necessary services quickly to the citizens through the private-public partnership, and expanding non-contact services with partner countries as Korea was hit with COVID-19 pretty early on. In addition, I was able to assist partner countries to benchmark some of Korea’s services to combat the pandemic. Later in the year, governments came together to discuss where a digital government should go in the post-COVID-19 era. I have been sharing Korea’s plan for the future and also learning from experiences and strategies of others.

Most of all, I am so proud to have worked with amazing people from all over the world that came together (virtually, of course) despite the global pandemic to identify directions for the future and strengthen international solidarity.

What is one unexpected learning from 2020? 

Just like everyone else, at the end of last year, I had a slightly different expectation for 2020. The pandemic unexpectedly has shown me how resilient people are. Yes, everyone panicked a bit in the beginning; however, we soon adapted to the new normal and continued working to overcome this difficulty, learn from it and prepare ourselves for any future crisis. It gave me hope and strength to navigate through the unknown.

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2021? 

2021 would be an exciting year to see more digital government innovation projects being implemented to create more responsive and inclusive digital government for the citizens. Personally, I look forward to seeing all digital technologies being used to design and deliver services in natural languages to our citizens, so that a level of digital literacy does not become an issue for them when accessing government services.

What are your priorities for 2021? 

In 2021, I will continue working closely and actively with partners around the world to build a better digital society for all. My life priority will be to savor every moment. As clichéd as it may sound, 2020 has taught us that things that we take for granted can be taken away from us at any moment. I will try to appreciate small things in my life.

What advice would you give to women looking to start a career in GovTech? 

Think about why you want a career in public service; think about how you would drive changes in government services. Then, work toward realizing that goal.

Write a message for your future self. 

Don’t hesitate, take chances, experience more!