From Amelea Kim and Ben Harris

Mrs. Shim said that when she took over the program she felt pressure. As the first woman to lead the program, she knew that if something went wrong, and budget cuts cut too deep, people would say, “see what happens?”

Even though we started working for Mrs. Shim long after she took over, budget cuts were always a looming threat. She was constantly preparing to meet with ministry officials, looking over accounting reports. But while we were there, the cuts never happened. This wasn’t magic. The program didn’t run itself. Mrs. Shim was at work every day before us, and often stayed after we’d left for the day. She took home thick stacks of applications to read at night, flew around the world for meetings and conferences (and always flew economy), and was unfailingly thorough.

She also hired good people. Mrs. Shim was proud of KAEC’s relatively low administrative overhead; of course, that meant we had to do more with less. And yet what was most astonishing to us was that so much of what we did day to day rarely felt like work. The men and women—and, we should pause to recognize that a program whose alumni include university presidents, prime ministers, and diplomats is run mainly by women—we worked with were kind, fun, and efficient, and we loved them.

Mrs. Shim created this atmosphere. She asked us about our families, took us out for lunch (or brought in fresh chicken from her farm), and hosted impromptu office tea. She cared about the program and about her team, and that made KAEC a great place to work.

We miss our coworkers at KAEC, and we miss our 단장님. We’re sad to see her retire, but happy she’s going to get some well-earned rest. Happy retirement, Mrs. Shim. Thank you so much for all your hard work, your dedication to KAEC, and the passion with which you carried out your work.

Amelea Kim and Ben Harris (Program Coordinator/Executive Assistant, 2015-2016)