A Zealous Basket
A Zealous Basket
  • Kim Sang-uk Professor Department of Life Science
  • 승인 2018.11.29 11:07
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Prof. Kim Sang-uk at POSTECH gym
Prof. Kim Sang-uk at POSTECH gym

I received a request for an article from a student in the basketball club where I am the supervisor. The request was for me to write about my thoughts on passion.
What is passion for me? If passion is a feverous heart for things, I have two, one for conducting better research and the other for being better at basketball. Often, while I am sleeping, ideas for research just come to me and I get up hurriedly and write my ideas down. I even practice basketball skills training in my dreams. However, the fear of not sleeping will drain my energy for the next day, so I try to sleep as much as possible, thinking that I will do those things as soon as I get up in the morning.
While watching the movie, ‘Inception’, I got struck by the thought, “That is it.” In the movie, if you do something while asleep, time goes about 20 times slower. This means that if you work hard in your dream, it can have a 20-fold effect. Just like in the movie, when I go to sleep while thinking about the clues to my research that are currently unsolved, I find myself continuing to do so in my dreams. If you study in your dream and fall asleep again, you can achieve 400 times the effect. I believe this passion to do something that even transcends dreams and sleeping can produce excellent results. 
After receiving my doctorate degree, I interviewed James Bowie, a professor at the University of California, who used to be my advisor, for research purposes. At the end of the interview, I received the question, “Why should I choose you?” At that moment a famous line from the cartoon Slam Dunk came to my mind. “Professor, I sincerely want to study and research. I mean it.” Due to him believing in my passion, I was able to freely do the research I wanted and I was able to produce successful results. I am at POSTECH due to those results, making me I believe even more so, that it is important to have passion and be able to show it. I feel lucky because I am doing what I want to do. It seems to be a merit of being passionate. Sometimes I cannot believe how I’m being praised just for working hard on something I love to do. I feel so happy and lucky. 
However, my passion has sometimes been a burden. There was a time when students praised me as the best three-point shooter in POSTECH. It felt good to be praised, but I often couldn’t sleep because I thought I could do better. Basketball skill trainings that I did in my dreams did not correspond to real life. I thought that I lacked basketball talent. I thought ‘Mom, why did you give birth to me like this? If only I were 10 centimeters taller.’ Passion is great, but it will only take you so far as talent allows. Competing with passion alone is difficult. I often felt that and felt limited as a player in big competitions. Both talent and passion are needed to do what one likes.
Students asking for the advice often ask me questions like, “Should I do what I like? Or should I do what I’m good at?” Of course, doing what you like the most is the obvious answer. But what if they are different? In those situations, I tell them to like the things that you are good at. I believe passion can sublimate the lack of talent to a certain degree. And while enjoying what you are doing, you should not just like it, but also like it so that everyone knows it. 
I believe that passion makes a happy person. There are so many things to do as a student in college. I think the most important thing is to find a job or work that you like. Once you find something you enjoy, you should be passionate about it and develop your skills to the fullest in that area and become an independent person. Watching a person with passion and seeing what they do for that passion is a joyous thing to observe. And sometimes because it is such a joyous thing, when others recognize the passion within a person, they naturally help. That is why passion and happiness are contagious.