CAPAL Intern Spotlight Yoo Ra Sung ’21

What are your main responsibilities at your position? What are some of your big projects? (this can include projects at your internship, your specific CAP, etc) 

As a Student Intern at the Department of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, I work for the Korea Desk specifically focusing on North Korea/DPRK related tasks and assignments. This internship allows me to work on research, writing memorandum and letters, and take part in meetings and discussions pertinent to the operations of the State Department relative to the Korean peninsula. I also am engaged in a secondary internship with Pacific Forum, a research think tank based in Honolulu, HI. Through Pacific Forum, I am working on an independent research article focused on US militarism in South Korea and its impact on women.

How does this internship fit with your professional and career goals? 

Both of my internships fit my professional and career goals, as I eventually hope to pursue a Joint PhD-JD degree subsequent to my undergraduate education. I plan to study international law and East Asian history and languages in order to pursue a career that focuses on specifically US-Korea and US-China relations, through policy research and civil/foreign service. My experiences with Department of State and Pacific Forum definitely allow me to delve into my professional interests and offer me an amazing opportunity to gain exposure to the fields I hope to work in, in the future.

What do you hope to achieve this summer as a part of CAPAL’s 2021 cohort? 

I hope to utilize CAPAL’s various programming components such as the Washington Leadership Program and CAP project to broaden my knowledge about various important issues impacting the AANHPI community. I also want to connect with the other scholars and interns in the 2021 cohort, and grow my network and connect with Asian American leaders and professionals in the public service and government sectors.

What does public service mean to you? 

To me, public service is an important way to give back to people and communities in need by enacting policies and change which benefit and support the most marginalized in our society. I believe public service should be an essential part of everyone’s career, and prioritizing the needs of the public good creates a productive and equitable society.

Did you pick up any new hobbies during quarantine, and if so, what are they?

I started watching Grey’s Anatomy, tried making a bunch of TikTok food, and committed to completing a paint-by-numbers picture.

What’s your favorite book?

One of my favorite books is called In the Absence of Sun by Helie Lee. It’s about a Korean American writer who documents her family’s journey to help their North Korean relatives escape. I relate so much to the cultural and ideological challenges Lee faces in her journey to protect her family and fight for her beliefs within a patriarchal Korean environment based on filial piety and sacrifice.

If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Dwen-jang-jji-gae is a type of Korean stew that I often eat with rice and ban-chan (side dishes), and it’s a go-to comfort meal for me. I crave it especially after being away from home for a long time, but it’s also just one of my favorite foods to eat regularly!

What is one country/place you hope to travel to one day? 

I love to travel and a few places on my bucket list are Singapore, China, Thailand, Italy, France, Switzerland, and Australia. Getting to meet new people, see new places, and experiences different cultures and languages reminds me of how vast and diverse the world truly is, and I hope to travel as much as I can throughout my life.

What’s one interesting/surprising fact that a lot of people may not know about you? 

I used to bowl competitively in high school and was captain of the girls bowling team!

Meet all of our 2021 CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.