<Interview> Lee Ki-hun, a member of the National Assembly, said, "There is a desperate need to strengthen the status of OKA and secure

오재경 Oh Jae-Gyung
11 Jun 2024

The premise of the people's consent, a flexible nationality system is needed

A system should be reorganized to enhance the benefits of long-term overseas residents

Create a Korea and K-culture that can protect the identity of the Korean people

<Interview> Reporter Jeong Seong-hee (Vice President of this magazine)

- Congratulations on your election to the 22nd National Assembly in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province. You are well known to know the reality better than anyone else because you have been working on overseas Koreans for nearly 20 years. Please say hello to the people of Korea, 7.5 million Koreans overseas, and the readers of "News K" worldwide.

▲Respectful Overseas Koreans and News-K readers! Nice to meet you. I am Lee Ki-heon, a member of the Democratic Party of Korea's National Assembly in Goyang. In March 2020, we remember the hearts of overseas Koreans who gave warm hands such as masks, quarantine supplies, and donations for our homeland in the midst of unprecedented COVID-19 situation. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the 7.5 million overseas Koreans. 

Just as overseas Koreans have gathered strength and wisdom whenever Korea is in trouble, I will also take the lead in protecting and supporting overseas Koreans so that they can feel safe wherever they are and be proud of their home country. Once again, I would like to thank all the overseas Koreans who are active on the stage all over the world, and I hope that your home will be filled with health and happiness. Thank you. 

- Were there any special reasons for you to walk the path of a politician when you were elected after serving in key positions such as the National Security Office's overseas Korean officer, the Presidential Secretary for Civic Participation, and the Secretary for Civil Affairs?

▲This is my first time running, but it's been a long time since I stepped into politics. My relationship with politics began when I helped Rep. Kim Geun-tae, who was preparing to enter politics in 1994 when I graduated from college. I have been working as a secretary to Rep. Kim Geun-tae, a party official of the Democratic Party of Korea, for a long time, and contributed to Korean politics by ending the military regime and establishing a democratic government. 

Then, in 2012, I participated in President Moon Jae In's first presidential campaign, and after experiencing a disappointing failure, I felt that my role as a working-level official was clearly limited. Since then, I changed my life's trajectory to become a "real politician" rather than a "working-level politician" and created a body to become a politician for 12 years until 2024, my first run. In particular, during this period, I learned the experience of becoming a good politician by working as an overseas Korean officer at the Blue House of the Moon Jae-in administration and performing duties for 7.5 million Koreans, including 2.5 million overseas Koreans.

It may be a bit late start as a politician, but after 28 years of experience as a secretary of the National Assembly, a key party official and a secretary of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, I think this is the best time to do what is for the people. I will do my best for the people based on my accumulated experience.

- What kind of role do you plan to play in the upcoming 22nd National Assembly?

▲The people have shown their strong will to judge the government through this election. As a politician, I cannot be free from the vocation of the times that the people have shown me. I humbly accept the public sentiment shown through this election, and I will do my best to restore the failing economy of people's livelihood and judge the government.

- Please tell me the policy or direction you have in mind or plan for overseas Koreans.

▲ Despite having 7.5 million overseas Koreans, Korea is still implementing a closed nationality policy as it is a ceasefire and divided country. As Korea's international credibility and influence are growing day by day, it is necessary to flexibly change the nationality system on the premise of the consent of the people and implement a system that suits the nationality of the Republic of Korea. 

In addition, a system should be established to enhance the benefits of overseas Koreans who are staying for a long time for business, employment, and study, such as expanding education systems for children of overseas Koreans and flexible application of medical insurance. To this end, it is imperative to strengthen the status of the newly established Office for Overseas Koreans and secure a budget. 

Above all, the most important policy is to create a Korea and a K-culture that can proudly protect the identity of the Korean people no matter where they live abroad. As a member of the National Assembly, I will work together with my fellow Koreans and overseas Koreans. 

| Major career |

- President Moon Jae-in's Office of Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs and Civil Participation Secretary

- Moon Jae-in Government National Security Office Overseas Korean Officer

- Director-General of the Democratic Party of Korea and Director-General of the International Bureau

- Director of the Democratic United Party Organization

- Kim Geun-tae, secretary of the National Assembly


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