Update: 15:23 | 19/08/2019
Overweight and a foreigner, Nguyen Hong Minh has gone the extra mile to become a South Korean policewoman.
Minh is a bridge between two communities and two cultures, because one of her main motivations in becoming a policewoman in South Korea was to help her Vietnamese brethren there.
Nguyen Hong Minh is a police officer at Jangseong County Police Department, South Jeolla Province, South Korea.
Last August, Minh became a proud member of the Jangseong County Police Department in South Jeolla Province, making her one of seven Vietnamese female police officers in South Korea.
At 33, Minh has accomplished a longstanding goal, overcoming considerable odds. Born and raised in Vinh Town, central Nghe An Province, Minh went to study economics at the Chosun University in South Korea after graduating from high school in Vietnam.
As a student, her fluency in Korean helped her find work as an occasional interpreter for the police and residency departments, as well as a translator working on court documents in Gwangju City.
Nguyen Hong Minh, her husband and three children celebrate her appointment at the Jangseong County Police Department.
The part-time jobs allowed her to meet many of her compatriots who accidentally broke the law because they were not fluent in Korean and not knowledgeable about South Korean law.
What she saw sparked in Minh the desire to become a police officer to be able the Vietnamese understand local laws and culture better, and to help minimize crimes committed by the community in a foreign country.
Minh had to jump over many hurdles as she kept her eyes on the goal. After graduating from university, Minh worked for an import-export company for nearly 6 years but the dream of being a police officer still burned within her.
She was still obsessed with police officers wearing the uniform of justice and handling tough cases. Meanwhile, she tied the knot with a local man and gave birth to three children – a girl and two boys.
The birth of the third child only made Minh more determined to act on actualizing her dream. She quit her job at the import-export company and began to prepare for the police exam.
In addition to taking care of her children and doing the household chores, Minh began jogging and doing exercises she saw on online tutorials. She also vigorously adopted a strict diet with higher protein and less fat and carbs.
After dealing with the weight problem, Minh realized the next item on the list would take a lot more emotional courage.
After three months of technical knowledge and fitness tests, Minh won a ticket to the police department, but she also had to undergo additional professional training for six months and a 2-month internship in order to get appointed to a position.
Minh is now a police officer who specializes in domestic violence, school violence and cases of missing persons. She was initially terrified and jittery at seeing bloody crime scenes and dead bodies, but gradually got used to it.
Working as a police officer has also meant that the mother of three sacrifices time spent on herself and her family. It is not rare that she comes home after midnight and leaves early the next morning to a crime scene.
Nguyen Hong Minh, second from left, and her colleagues at Jangseong County Police Department, South Jeolla Province.
Minh said that even after learning so much on the job, she still feels the most rewarding aspect of being a police officer in South Korea is when she gets to handle cases involving Vietnamese people and helping them, which is what she wanted all along.
Minh is also running a Vietnamese class on weekend evenings for children whose mothers are Vietnamese so that they can talk with their mothers and grandparents in their mother tongue, and get to know and understand them better. Her children are also learning Vietnamese at home.
Minh’s husband, who preferred to be called by his last name, said he was both proud and worried about his wife.
Overcoming many challenges has made Minh more confident about facing whatever comes next. Her aim remains the same: "As a police officer, I will try my best to help the Vietnamese community get along well in a foreign land."