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Dr. Minsun Ji shares views on activism

Photo courtesy of Elly Lewis

Dr. Minsun Ji has a storied career, one that is filled with social justice and politics. Anyone would be hard pressed to find any reason not be impressed by her expansive resume and passion for her work.

The CU Denver Political Science professor and Director for the New Directions in Politics and Public Policy program grew up in South Korea.

“I moved to the United States in 1995,” said Ji. “I moved here to pursue a master’s in Art History because I wanted to be a curator and promote street art. But when I lived in Korea, I was deeply involved in student and labor movements. The idea of being a part of these movements, to be a part of change, has really stayed with me. So, I decided to change my major.”

In 2000, Dr. Ji graduated from the University of Denver with an MA in International Political Economy and shortly after, began to work with day laborers.

“When I came to the United States, I started to help janitors who were unhappy with low wages to organize with the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) labor union,” Ji said. “As a result, I founded El Centero Humanitario (The Humanitarian Center for Workers) and became the default Executive Director. It’s Denver’s very first day laborer organization.”

Dr. Ji is no longer the Executive Director for El Centero Humanitario, but she was recently hired as the director for the New Directions Master’s program.

“New Directions is a weekend MA program for people who work full-time,” Ji said. “We set students up with internships in the government to give them hands-on experience. I had this experience when I was in Korea, and I want as many students as possible to have that experience, too. They’re learning not only in the classroom, but also in the real world.”

Dr. Ji’s experiences have put her face-to-face with Denver’s incredibly diverse population.

“I do believe I’m very fortunate that I can work with so many different people,” Ji said. “My experiences, especially now, with New Directions really is my highlight in what’s going on in the United States, especially with the situation with North Korea.”

“It used to be that people didn’t really know where North Korea was,” said Ji. “People would ask me if I was from South or North Korea when I told them where I was from, which told me they didn’t really know much about North Korea at all. Now, because of the immense media coverage, more and more people know where North Korea is and who Kim Jong Un is—and people are scared.”

As a result of the rising tensions between North Korea and the US, Dr. Ji has noticed that more students are familiarizing themselves with information regarding the regime. Hopefully, this knowledge about the region will lead to students pursuing more peaceful options in the future that have not been considered yet

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