Part II: TCK SPOTLIGHT- Korean Military service experience

Won in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo credit to Won.

Click HERE to see the first part of this story

Won was born in Korea, moved to Saudi Arabia, then to Dubai and from there he stayed in Indonesia for eight years. From Indonesia, he moved to the States then back to Korea for the military and then back to the States.

“So while I was in Korea, when you first get into the training camp they make you write everything that you have done in the past. What you’re good at, what’s your specialties, and that’s when they decide which way you go. I chose that I spoke many languages. I spoke Korean, Indonesian, some French, some Spanish, some English. They didn’t choose me. They didn’t see that.

(Below you can hear Won’s quote)

About six months from being discharged, Won got a call from the head of the military defense.

“”Do you speak different languages?” I said, “Yes, sir”. And they told me, “Why don’t you come in for an interview tomorrow?” So I went there for an interview for Indonesian translating work. And I got to do translating work for the Nuclear Security Summit in Korea in 2012. There was 52 countries, presidents coming in and I was translating for the President of Indonesia. That was a cool experience.”

Won doing translating work at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Korea. Photo credit to Won.

What were you translating?

“I was translating Indonesian, English and Korean at the same time. Anytime he asked me a question I answered. Anytime he talked to someone else, he talks to me and I get to talk to the other person. So I’m the middle man between everything.”

Won was translating for the President of Korea, President of Indonesia and the Ambassador of Nuclear Security and the Head of Military Defense.

From a TCK perspective, Won describes his rough transition back into Korea

“It was rough. It was really rough. I’m a TCK, I’ve never considered myself a Korean but I went there and it was hard because I didn’t know anything. The words they were using were different, it was a different society, it was hard to get adjusted. I got mistreated a lot.”

(Below you can hear Won’s quote)

Although his experience was difficult, Won had a profound experience where he met a lot of different people.


“I found out there’s not only diversity out of Korea, not like worldwide diversity, but there’s diversity within Korea. Different cultures, different people and different ways of how people grew up.”


Click HERE to see the first part of this story



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