Law in the Internet Society


I. Background

II. Encountering Two Major Differences

III. Experiencing Changes In Thoughts

IV. Conclusion

-- By KeeryongSong - 15 Nov 2009

I. Background

On July 19, 2009, I came to New York. Before that, I lived in Korea for over twenty years. In Korea, everyone is considered to be in the “main stream” since Korea is a nation composed by a single ethnic group and as long as you are in the main stream your thoughts and values are considered to be right. Also, due to the uniformity of the education system, most Koreans have a tendency to think, talk and behave alike.

However, after coming to New York, I came to realize what diversity meant. Unlike Korea, people seemed to be free from the social norms and pursue whatever they wanted. They were thinking of their own values in their own way. For example, in Korea, the meaning of successful life might be identical or similar to many people. It might mean, going to a nice university, getting a nice job, getting paid well, leading a wealthy life and raising your kids in a prosperous environment. Since most Koreans have a similar definition of success, the ways of achieving it also becomes similar. It is becoming a doctor or a lawyer. While in school, it is regarded to be a good thing if you say, “I want to be a lawyer in the future”, but a bad thing, if you say, “I want to be an explorer”.

II. Encountering Two Major Differences

My mental values and ways of thinking were formed while staying in Korea. When I came to New York, many things were “shocking” to me. Mainly, two things were very different. First, unlike Korea, nobody seemed to be concerned with how they might be perceived by other people. Everyone seemed to be doing whatever they wanted to do. Second, people seemed to set their values on various things. For instance, when choosing a job, they seem to take into consideration what kind of life they are going to live after they get it. In Korea, if you work for a company like Samsung of LG, the kind of life you are going to live is so obvious that you will not have to think about it. You will wake up at six in the morning, to go work at seven, work till nine p.m., come back home around ten at night and go to bed. That’s considered to be “normal”. That is a like you are going to live wherever you get a job. Yet, here in New York, there are so many different types of jobs you can get and tons of lifestyles you can get.

III. Experiencing Changes In Thoughts

While these two major differences struck me, I came to reconsider my goals in life. Up to this point, I always wanted to be a successful corporate lawyer. I had no doubt I would be a good one. It is not only because I have a finance friendly reuslt on my career aptitude test. Actually I have a huge interest in finance and the substantial reason for this is because of the people I always meet, “my friends”. I have nine very close friends who always gather together ever since we were freshmen in universities. Except two of us, seven members of our group went to the finance world to get a job. As a consequence, whenever we meet, our conversation topics are things related to finance. I naturally gained knowledge in the finance field and came to know what lawyers do in that field. The way how financial transactions occurred and how lawyers played significant roles in those situations fascinated me. The investment bankers looked like “racing horses” since they had the money and had the physical ability to run, but they did not know the rules of racing, or how to race. On the other hand, lawyers looked like “jockeys”. Even though they didn’t have the money to invest or the physical strength to run the actual race, they knew the rules of racing and could give advice how to race. Between those two, the latter seemed much more attractive and fun to me. That’s why I started to dream of being a corporate lawyer. I had no doubt that it was what I wanted to do and it would be the best job for me.

However, when I came to New York, I realized people had totally different values, in life, from me. Several questions started to hover in my mind. “Is the value that I have pursued for my whole life an “optimal” one for me?” “Am I pursuing it because I really want to achieve it? Or just because it’s what’s regarded to be the best thing to pursue?” After being questioned by these questions, I couldn’t get rid of these questions. In the past, I was pretty sure who I was and what I wanted. But now, as a person who doesn’t even know what exists out there in the world, I’m getting confused about my goals in life. It’s probably because I’m thinking about things which I didn’t think about in the past. I’m sure that my thoughts are being generated by totally different viewpoints of people I newly met here in New York. I have to say that most of the “shocking approaches on matters” or “viewpoints I have never thought about” are coming from “Law in the Internet Society” lecture.

IV. Conclusion

Finally, I have to confess I’m experiencing “identity crisis” since things that I have believed to be “absolute” for my whole life are being challenged at this moment. However, I have a feeling that this kind of rough challenge might be my last chance to discover what’s out there in the real world. In my opinion, this kind of “chance to discover a new world” came to me since I stepped out of my existing world. Therefore, I shall do my best to make the most of this “opportunity for a new discovery”. While I’m here in New York, I’m going to figure out what I really want in my life and how I’m going to get it!

(997 words)

Keeryong, It was interesting to read your experience after you arrived here in New York. I am experiencing a similar culture shock as well. While I focused on making money by ambulance chasing big business clients, Professor Moglen told us that he received a couple million donation from freesoftware organizations. People at Columbia Law are really smart and talented, however, it is really up to an individual how you will use your intellectual capital. With your efforts and talents, we can influence the world in a way that we never think of in the past. In Asian countries where we are from, there are less varieties in approaches to your career. It is exactly the reasons guys like you and I are now studying at Columbia and taking Professor Moglen's class.


-- AndoY - 1 Dec 2009

Keeryong, I've added a comment box to your paper, so that we can make comments without editing the paper itself.

-- AllanOng - 03 Dec 2009

Thank you very much Allan. It's something that I really needed!

-- KeeryongSong - 04 Dec 2009

Dear Ando, I really appreciate your sincere comment. Since we are having a great time while experiencing a viewpoint which we were not used to our whole lives, I think both of us are going to gain a lot when this semester ends.

-- KeeryongSong - 04 Dec 2009


I enjoyed reading your essay. Thanks for sharing your personal account of coming to New York. I will try to provide a few suggestions, as you requested.

A few structural things. The sentence "It is not only because I have a financial friendly result of my career aptitude test." was a bit confusing to me. I understand the point of the sentence is to communicate that a career aptitude test indicated you would be well-suited to a job as a corporate lawyer, but the "financial" adjective confused me and made me wonder if the sentence instead refers to a career aptitude result that indicated you would be well-suited to a job in finance generally. Also, the sentence "The investment bankers looked like “racing horses” since they had the money and had the physical ability to run, but they did know the rules of racing, or how to race." seems to be missing a "not" in "but they did not know the rules of racing ...." Finally, the sentence "After being questioned these questions," would read better if rephrased.

I don't have any substantive comments because your essay already does what I believe you intend it to do: it communicates the story of your reevaluating the life that you thought you wanted to live, and questioning the road ahead in light of new experiences. I agree with you that it is generally wise to reconsider the road you are taking often, because mistakes or bad choices will usually only be revealed if you stop to look for them. You are also right: it is particularly important to consider the road now, for the next step we take (into a legal position) will have substantial (though not necessarily dispositive) weight in the course of life.

I hope these comments are helpful.

-- BrianS - 12 Dec 2009

Dear Brian, I would like to say that I really appreciate your thoughtful comments on my writing. There were three sentences that you pointed out. First, "It is not only because I have a financial friendly result of my career aptitude test". I think that I have to re-phrase it as "It is not only because I have a FINANCE friendly reuslt ON my career aptitude test". I was trying to say that "a FINANCE friendly result" was my result of the test. Second, "but they did know the rules of racing" should be "but they did NOT know the rules of racing". Your correction was very accurate. Third, "After being questioned these questions" has to be "After being questioned BY these questions". I think my writing certainly is going to be better if I make changes like the above. Thank you for your consideration.

-- KeeryongSong - 12 Dec 2009

Revisions have been made

-- KeeryongSong - 17 Dec 2009

Keeryong, I agree that no more revision is needed. It seems to me that you've written an essay whose value to you is in the telling: what you have discovered about possibility. For readers who have grown up in this culture, on the other hand, the value is in the discovery of what they take for granted. The creativity inherent in a system that leaves people free to find their own way based on individual self-reflection rather than a operating "constructed self" based on others' opinions is often obscured from our sight, because we are so accustomed to it that we do not appreciate what it gives us. People come to this country to find this freedom, or they acquire a taste for it once they are here, but those of us who start with it often underestimate its meaning.

Sir, Thank you very much for your comment. I really appreciate it.

-- KeeryongSong - 26 Jan 2010



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r11 - 07 Sep 2011 - 00:44:11 - IanSullivan
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