OWL Magazine Korea

“Comma: A Record of the Challenge and Growth of a Young Man Who Will Change the World” by Kim Seong-han

Currently, the author Kim Seong-han works as a “Coupang Product Owner (PO).” A Product Owner is a position within a company often referred to as a mini CEO, responsible for overseeing all aspects of a product from planning, design, development, release, to analysis. The business strategy of constantly innovating to create the best product exemplifies the operation of a company.

Kim Seong-han, while working as a Product Owner at Coupang, seems to have published a new book titled “Product Owner,” but prior to that, he also published a book titled “Comma.” In the book “Comma,” he reflects on the growth process he experienced before stepping into society, seemingly written during a period of rest due to “panic disorder.”

“Kim Seong-han, an elite among elites”

There is a saying, “走馬加鞭” (run the horse with a whip), which means to whip a running horse, implying exerting more effort when one’s circumstances or strength are at their peak. It also suggests encouragement to work harder in a situation where one is already putting in effort, carrying a negative connotation of pushing oneself excessively.

After reading Kim Seong-han’s book “Comma,” one is overwhelmed by his remarkable achievements. Despite achieving what would be difficult for an ordinary person to accomplish, he received reprimands for not doing “more” and ultimately faced panic disorder.

At the age of 14, he entered the first boarding school in the United States, served as captain of the Korean national lacrosse team at 16, was accepted to the London School of Economics at 19, but instead enrolled in Sciences Po, a prestigious political school in France, at 20. At 23, he was accepted into the London School of Economics and the master’s program at Peking University. Even just summarizing the significant achievements mentioned in the book reveals an impressive resume.

“Overwhelmed by remarkable achievements”

Throughout the book, one is overwhelmed by Kim Seong-han’s remarkable achievements. As someone who could never dream of studying abroad, reading the author’s book allows glimpses into stories of studying abroad.

Particularly, it’s noteworthy that despite the difficulty of admission into prestigious boarding schools in the United States, Kim Seong-han applied to five and was accepted to all, showcasing his remarkable determination.

The book not only shares the challenges the author faced but also delves into the preparations made, experiences gained during those challenges, and the detailed account of his journey. It provides valuable insights for readers considering studying abroad in the United States.

Even for those not interested in boarding schools, reading the author’s stories creates a sense of immersion, indirectly experiencing his journey, making the book a depiction of the growth of a young man.

“Detailed insights into studying abroad and academics”

From the contents of the book, it’s undeniable that Kim Seong-han has lived a diligent life. Through his book, readers can delve into his journey from boarding school admissions to university choices, preparations made, and his experiences at Sciences Po in France. This part of the book would be particularly helpful for those considering studying abroad in the United States or Sciences Po in France.

With the author’s firsthand experiences and detailed explanations of his journey, readers can gain insights into what he prepared, how he overcame challenges, and ultimately achieved success.

“Contrasting success with anxious psyche”

The book continues to introduce Kim Seong-han’s successful endeavors. Despite facing psychological turmoil contrasting with his social success, it evokes a sense of sympathy and sadness.

Even though the author always did his best, he experienced increasing psychological difficulties. Advised only to “work harder” and “endure mentally” by his parents, he eventually suffered from panic attacks due to accumulated stress over several years.

Unable to regulate his pace and pushing himself too hard, he developed a mental illness beyond his control. However, after the book’s publication, looking at his life, he returned after a period of rest, displaying a healthy state and social success. It makes one wonder if writing this book provided him with the opportunity to introspect and plan for the future, contemplating what he truly desires.

“Slow but steady progress”

Although I’ve faced challenges in life, they are not as significant as Kim Seong-han’s. If I’m considered someone who challenged domestically, Kim Seong-han could be seen as someone who conquered the world stage.

Reading the author’s book, I found parts I could relate to as well as parts that made me feel inadequate.

While I have regrets about not having the opportunity to challenge myself globally, I also felt the author’s relentless determination. Reading his book made me empathize with his journey, reflecting on my own aspirations and accomplishments.

There’s a saying, “牛步千里” (bull’s steps cover a thousand miles), meaning steady effort leads to eventual success. This resonated with me while reading the book. It emphasizes that progress is not just about speed but also about having the right mindset and direction.

“Living as you think, thinking as you live”

There’s a saying, “사는 대로 생각하면, 사는 대로 생각한다” (if you live as you think, you’ll think as you live). Conversely, there’s also a saying, “생각하는 대로 살면, 생각하는 대로 산다” (if you live as you think, you’ll live as you think). While facing reality may not be easy, it’s important to live without losing sight of your thoughts.

Reading the book made me reconsider what I truly want and contemplate my future aspirations. It sparked two desires within me: to hone my writing skills to convey inspiration through my words and to work in an international organization in the future.

Reflecting on what I wrote ten years ago and what I’m rewriting now, I ponder what I truly desire. While I’ve consistently pursued writing, setting up a new website on WordPress and revising my old articles, I’m also creating new content. However, the impact of COVID-19 on international organizations has hindered my plans for now. This aspect requires a revision of my goals.

“Taking a pause, not stopping”

The author ends his book with the phrase, “멈추는 것이 아닙니다. 쉼표를 찍을 뿐입니다” (It’s not about stopping, just taking a comma). Ultimately, we all strive to achieve our goals, but sometimes taking a brief pause is necessary. Kim Seong-han took a break due to panic disorder, while I took a pause due to the economic impact of COVID-19.

However, it’s essential to remember that it’s not about stopping but about taking a pause.

“Comma: A Record of the Challenge and Growth of a Young Man Who Will Change the World”