Meet Heejung Yim — A Strong and Quiet Star of the East
We met Heejung during MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp Class 3, that took place in Seoul, South Korea last March. Soft-spoken yet strong-willed and determined, Heejung exemplifies for us the quiet poise, elegance and subtle drive that has greatly characterised the “Taste of the East” that we experienced during our stay in Seoul, and coloured our interactions with the local people. Heejung holds a BA in Business Administration and Management, and History from Sogang University and an MS in Sustainability Studies from Columbia University, NY.
Heejung is passionate about intercultural differences with a particular emphasis on travel: she is Co-Founder of Touver (demo to be released soon), a platform that develops new approaches to global travel, with a view to creating unique and personal travelling experiences- through connecting travellers directly to locals. Her dream is to direct a documentary film.
Immediately following Bootcamp, Heejung took some of her new friends to experience a special Buddhist Temple Stay, to introduce them to a local spiritual tradition, and help them recover from a week of intense fatigue through meditation and reflection. It deepened their friendships in a very special way.
“We started our temple stay with walking meditation. Step by step, we tried to feel every single sensation in our feet, legs, and body. The monk asked two questions: “What is your worst enemy in the world?” Also: “What is your best friend in the world?” The answer is: ‘Thought’. So our quest about THOUGHT was started during our temple stay. We can control our thoughts instead of being controlled by them. Two-days of practising being happy, laughing, and no-self was not enough — but we could understand what is the most important thing for our happiness: it is to be in the ‘Here and Now’. We must not live in the past or future. Being in the here and now, I can enjoy every step on the way of an entrepreneur’s journey. Not being obsessed with success, nor haunted by past mistakes, we can overcome anxieties, worries, and regrets. The journey itself is a fun and happy moment for us.”
Since attending MIT Bootcamp in March, what has changed in your life?
Personally, I now feel much more confident to start my global travel service by tailoring to global markets. Bootcamp enabled me to establish more intimate connections to people from diverse cultures and countries. This is different from normal University friends in that we share a profound similar interest that revolves around entrepreneurship, and because we are ready to help one another. Professionally speaking, my MIT Bootcamp experience has greatly boosted my credibility by strengthening my network and connecting me to a community of fellow-entrepreneurs. Also, having won second place on Demo Day at Bootcamp with my service idea is a powerful way for me to illustrate the feasibility and appeal of my idea.
How has your network grown?
I now have many more connections with people in other countries. I mean all sorts of relationships: friends, advisors, supporters, business partners.
Upon reflection, what was your greatest learning from the past 12 months?
I have learnt that without a strong team, it is hard to progress work properly and speedily. When ideas come together in a team context, more creativity is generated. Working through ideas in a team however does have two sides to it: some discussions make the idea more solid and detailed, but some are time and energy dispersive. It is therefore important to distinguish quickly between what kinds of discussions need to be encouraged and which need to be contained or cut short.
24 hours per day never seem like enough. How do you deal with the constant time/work balancing act?
This is the part that I am struggling with most at the moment. I am still used to working in a company framework with a certain structure, spending assigned time on given projects with fixed deadlines and having a clear and delineated 24-hour schedule. Working for myself is more complex: I need to discipline myself about time distribution and deciding on outputs. As a full-time entrepreneur still in the preparatory stage, I try to start my day as early as possible and shut out distractions from my established concentration time.
What inspires you most in life?
A working experience with an NGO in Brazil inspired me to seek new fields of study and work after previous experience in management consulting fields. Studying sustainability and international development in other countries really opened my eyes and gave me a new perception of the world.
What is your attitude to learning and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)?
I love any kind of learning, and MOOCs especially I find to be a great tool to study and experience new subject matters easily and efficiently. Sometimes I just need someone or something to push me to actually complete my MOOCs!
What celebration would you travel from the other side of the world not to miss?
A wedding, a funeral (although you wouldn’t exactly call that a celebration), someone’s from the 60’s or 70’s birthday perhaps.
Describe your favourite comfort meal?
Korean foods: main dishes (meat or fish) with many side dishes. Also Italian cuisine. Note: on our last evening in Seoul, Heejung led us to one of the typical food carts that line the streets of Seoul to taste two of the most popular and delicious street foods:
- tteokbokki: a sort of cake made of rice and cooked with spicy pepper sauce), and
- kimmari: transparent fried noodles (made of potato flour) and wrapped with seaweed. Usually, Koreans put the kimmari into the tteokbokki sauce. Yummy!
How did you spend your summer holidays as a child?
Camping or taking short trips with other families.
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