Bringing him a cup of coffee, the grandmother slowly loosens his tongue and his fierce mind with her soft voice. After a few hours of having a conversation with her, he puts on a disarmed smile. As a token of his appreciation for putting out fire in his heart, he starts to call her a “fire truck.” This is how Kang Sun-hee (’61, Law), a civil affairs assistant, got the nicknames “court granny” and “love delivery.”
Kang’s life as a civil affairs assistant started in 2000, when Seoul Central District Court asked six law schools’ alumni from Korea’s major universities to assist volunteers. Today, nearly after 15 years, she is the only one left as an indispensable person for the court.
She was 62 years old when she started her volunteering work. It was about four decades after she had pushed her dream as a law student aside for marriage. Moreover, meeting 70 to 80 people a day was not easy for Kang.
“In the beginning, it was impossible to answer every civil complaint right away,” Kang said. “So I told them to come back in two or three days. This way, I could study the case and suggest what they should do.”
Sometimes, petitioners even scolded volunteers for not being able to give thorough answers. Nevertheless she has never thought of quitting the job, and was rather thankful to be able to help others.
“The fact that I can help other people itself is blissful,” Kang added.
When asked about how she was able to remain for such a long time, she modestly suggested “studying.” She still has not pulled out the plug on studying to help the civil petitioners.
“Law requires endless study,” Kang said. “Law changes quickly. In order to not give wrong information, I need to study, study and study.”
However, for her, love and consideration for people is much more meaningful than extensive knowledge about law.
“Most people who came to see me were in haste with anxiety not knowing where to go,” Kang said. “Thus, the most important thing is to relieve their anxiety and to open their minds.”
Despite the arduousness of dealing with dull and gloomy incidents, this is how she never loses her smile.
Recognizing her endless devotion, she was appointed as the first “Honorary Lawyer” in 2009 by the Korean Bar Association. The appointment is to recognize people who took the lead for legal aid and improved the human rights. In 2010, she was also awarded a “Beautiful Ewha-in of the year.” The award is given to Ewha alumni who are devoted to sharing and serving for the society.
“I am just grateful to become senescent by doing the most rewarding job in my life,” Kang said.
Sometimes after hearing about her as a “court granny,” people from remote countries come to see. From time to time, letters with earnest messages come from prisons asking for advice.
“They come to see me waiting from early in the morning,” Kang said. “It is grateful that I can provide them with useful help.”
The driving force of her passion comes from her attitude full of appreciation. According to her, pleasure wells up inside her when she looks at happy faces of people.
Beyond a legal advisor, she is also a life mentor handing out her years of experience. For instance, it is not just one couple who comes to thank her with grateful regard for preventing them from getting divorced.
“Once, a young couple came to me wanting a divorce,” Kang said. “After giving them some advice, I told them to return after a month living together.”
Kang describes her remaining years as a preparatory stage to become a blazing sunset. As a life mentor as well as a law advisor, Kang will continue along her path to become the blazing sunset.