A 5-year old little Julie just wanted to be a beautiful ballerina like her mother, so she started to learn a ballet. When her friends studied history, science, math and English during their school years, Julie was practicing ballet instead. Ballet was her life for 12 years, during this time she started to get anxious about learning the core curriculum subjects like her classmates and was curious what was outside of the ballet studio. In 10th grade, Julie suddenly asked herself “Why am I doing ballet? Why did I decide to do ballet? Do I sincerely want to be a ballerina like my mother?” She bravely told her mother “While I really love ballet, I think it is not enough to make me happy. I’m not sure if doing ballet is the best for me, I may be better at something else in life other than ballet.” Fortunately her mother completely understood Julie’s confusion and supported her quest to find her life’s passion.
Julie began to go to the bookstore and library instead of a ballet studio every day. She read many random books and articles on subject matter which seemed interesting to her; she especially loved to read biographies of female politicians, social activists and actresses. Julie clearly remembers the moment when she first read about female genital mutilation (FGM) through the Desert Flower, about the life of a Somali model, Waris Dirie. Just imagining it all made her skin crawl and empathize greatly for the girls in developing nations who have to deal with such harsh living conditions. It was a real story of girls who were the same age as her. Julie was deeply impacted by this article and had found her life’s passion to help girls in harsh living conditions live healthier, safer lives and have more opportunities in life. She made a decision to change her life’s focus and educational major to become a person who can help girls living in these harsh and impoverished environments survive and prosper…this was a first turning point in her life.
Julie focused her college studies around women’s rights. She wanted women in Korea to have just as many opportunities as men. As an undergraduate in college, Julie wrote a thesis paper addressing the issue that there were very few leadership programs for Korean females. Julie wanted female students to have these programs so that they could better prepare themselves for whatever future career goals they might have. She received an award for her thesis, which fueled her desire even more to enhance women’s rights in Korea. In graduate school, Julie focused her studies on work-family policy and got her Master’s degree in business administration. After graduation, she started a social enterprise that provides better information to corporate employees on how to balance work and family life. She was keen on helping families, single mothers, single fathers, temporary employees and employees with irregular working hours. In 2010, she founded a nonprofit organization, successfully raising $2 million from female leaders to fund her foundation. She has worked on numerous projects with government officials and corporate sectors to achieve a better workplace for working women. Julie received two outstanding recognition awards from The Ministry of Gender Equality Family and The Ministry of Health & Welfare for her work. She was actively involved in many policy making processes, including women’s rights, maternity leave, and flexible work arrangements for women. She is also in the process of obtaining her Ph.D in sociology and writing a paper on men’s housework. While there is still a lot of work to be done within Korea in regards to gender equality, Julie has a strong passion to help women in other parts of the world. That’s why Julie’s here in the U.S. and why she wanted be an Atlas Corps Fellow.
She thought and hoped that women and family situations around the world would become better as she was focused on women’s rights in Korea. However, over the 10 years since she first thought about these issues, girls and women around the world are still struggling to survive, struggling for access to safe water and proper sanitation. 800,000 children die every year from diseases caused by unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene. She has decided to focus her professional life on enhancing girls’ and women’s rights in developing nations, including North Korea, Burma, Nepal, Kenya and Uganda, by providing sustainable and affordable menstrual care products for girls in need, as well as improving menstruation awareness. Her goal is to provide young girls and women in developing nations with sustainable sanitary pads and underwear so that they can attend school and go to work during their period. Julie will bring more love into the world before it’s too late!!