Heart in Seoul: Clark Grad Earns Emportant Post in South Korea


In the United States we have CNN and the White House. The equivalent in South Korea is YTN and the Blue House.

The fast-rising career of Cho Hyun-Jin ’90 has included stints at both South Korea’s major media outlet and its seat of government. In January, 2013, Hyun-Jin earned yet another title to his impressive resume when he was named private secretary to the First Lady of South Korea, Kim Yoon-ok.

After graduating from Clark with a degree in economics, Hyun-Jin returned to his native Seoul, South Korea, for his mandatory military service and then began work as a journalist. His first job as a reporter for YTN (formerly known as Yonhap Television Network) — a Seoul-based 24-hour news network — lasted 11 years. He went on to work for Billboard magazine as a Korea correspondent, and then as chief of the news team at Arirang TV.

“When I was at Clark I did an internship at a nearby television network,” recalls Hyun-Jin. “That experience was invaluable. It helped me get into the field of television media, which ultimately led me to where I am now in my career.”

Hyun-Jin’s journalism experience allowed him to make an easy transition to public relations. In 2009, he joined the Presidential Office of the Republic of Korea, known as the Blue House, as assistant secretary to President Lee Myung-bak for overseas and domestic public affairs. He went on to serve as deputy secretary to the President for Educational Policy before being appointed private secretary to the First Lady.

“Clark taught me to have a flexible attitude, good communications skills and to have an understanding of a broad range of subjects,” says Hyun-Jin, who first heard about Clark from a family friend who was living in the United States. “Clark’s quality liberal arts education caught my attention.”

Hyun-Jin has called upon the skills he learned at Clark in his fast-paced public affairs work for the Blue House. In his first three years, he spearheaded Korea’s overseas public relations and image branding, a period he says “when Korea’s overseas identity dramatically improved.”

As senior secretary for public relations, Hyun-Jin was responsible for a wide range of tasks, from presidential trips overseas to summits in Seoul with foreign leaders. “I don’t think I was ever busier in my life than the 100 days prior to the November 2010 G-20 Summit in Seoul.” In 2011, he was awarded the Presidential Medal for his work on that summit. Hyun-Jin also ran press events for the Nuclear Security Summit in March 2012, President Obama’s visits to Seoul in 2009 and 2010, and President’s Lee’s state visit to the U.S. in 2011. In his new role, Hyun-Jin handles all arrangements and protocol issues for the First Lady.

“I have been so fortunate,” he says. “I have been provided with an opportunity to learn government management and come to love my country even more as a result of this service.”

Clark Research Professor Paul Ropp, whom Cho Hyun-Jin calls “a mentor who inspired me to keep an insightful global view of the world,” says “One of the real pleasures of teaching a long time at Clark is to see students continue to blossom and grow after they graduate. Hyun-Jin has a natural grace and charm that make it easy to see how he might rise even in the supremely competitive worlds of television and politics.”

Hyun-Jin has been able to stay connected to his alma mater through a strong Clark-Seoul alumni network, visits from Professor Ropp and recent visits from President David Angel and others in the Clark delegation. “President Angel’s visits always enlighten our alumni community in Seoul,” says Hyun-Jin. “Please visit more often!”