WHO IS LEE JAE-MYUNG? 3

 
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Photo from our South Korean correspondent.

WHO IS LEE JAE-MYUNG? 3

*Por Carlos Eduardo Lagos.

A Life Journey of Presidential Candidate Lee Jae-Myung.

Deciding on a Life for Public Interests

University Admission: Finding Hope at the End of Despair

Although he earned his high school diploma, it didn't change his life. He still had to work as a factory worker. Sometimes he had to go to work, even though he was beaten and broken his ribs at the factory. However, no difficulties could break his strong will to escape from his 'factory boy' life. He decided to go to college, thinking that was the only way to escape the hardship.
But the problem was money. It was difficult for him to pay the prep school for the college entrance exam. He enrolled in a prep school only for English and mathematics, but he had to give up after two months as he could not pay the tuition. The person who helped him at that time was Kim Chang-gu, the head of the prep-school. He allowed him to take lessons at the prep school for free. Later he realized that Mr. Kim was considerate enough to allow other poor students to attend the prep school for free. When he later became the Mayor of the City of Seongnam, Lee Jae-Myung's idea of basic economic rights, such as a policy to pay dividends to young people, and a basic income for the entire population, was inspired by this kind of experience.
He had other luck too. In 1981, the dictatorial regime of Chun Doo-hwan, which ruled with an iron fist from 1980 to 1987 after a military coup in 1979, abolished the entrance exam by colleges and allowed students to enter college by taking only a government-managed college entrance exam. The government introduced the "graduation quota system" that allowed colleges to give more admissions to students than the assigned quota for graduation by the government. Colleges could recruit more students, and they could get more tuition incomes. Under the circumstances, colleges took measures to grant full scholarships to those students with excellent scores from the government-managed college entrance exam. For a 17-year-old boy who could not afford to go on to college because of financial difficulty.
In March of that year, Jae-Myung enrolled in a college prep school only for the night from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. He worked in a factory during the day, went to the prep school in the evening, and stayed up all night to study. "Let's study dying hard!" He immersed himself in his study with determination. He was so desperate that he slept for two hours a day. He often fell asleep on the bus, went to the last stop, woke up, and walked home. Not to fall asleep during the study, he even sprinkled thumbtacks on the desk. Sometimes he fell asleep with thumbtacks on his face, bleeding on the books.
In July 1981, after six years of factory life, he studied full time after quitting the factory job to prepare for the college entrance exam. On November 24 of the same year, he received the highest score from the exam, belonging to the ranks within 2,500among out among more than 650,000 test-takers. Due to his excellent score, he was exempted from college tuition for three years and received a monthly living expense of 200,000 won, and entered the Department of Law at Chung-Ang University. Finally, he found hope at the end of long despair.
He attended the entrance ceremony, wearing a school uniform for the first time in his life. At that time, college students did not wear school uniforms, but it was Jae-Myung's long-standing dream to wear school uniforms. This behavior reflects his painful memory. When he was a factory boy, he had to go to the factory wearing work clothes while those teenagers of the same age wore school uniforms. Inspired by his own experiences, Lee Jae-Myung later became the Mayor of Seongnam city and implemented the free school uniform policy for all students.

*Corresponsal para América Latina
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