International Voices: Heejae Jeong’s Diligence, Perseverance, and Jeong
The Korean word jeong means intimate connection between people in community. Heejae Jeong, ’26, embodies jeong, demonstrating a love for deepening relationships with others and striving to share the joy he finds in Christ with everyone he encounters. His dedication to worshiping God through community led him to pursue a degree in international relations and honors humanities.
Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Jeong grew up surrounded by a family with a strong work ethic. “After the war in 1950, South Korea was the second poorest country in the world. It’s in our DNA to work really hard,” he said. As a pastor’s kid, Jeong was taught to do everything for the glory of God. Though it wasn’t until 9th grade, when he started studying at Skysam International Christian School, that he experienced the presence of God during a prayer meeting, a moment that changed the trajectory of his life. “I realized that I am a sinner, but Jesus saved me, and my whole mind, body, and intellect accepted the existence of God,” Jeong said. His diligence along with his desire to follow God inform’s Jeong’s calling to love and serve others.
“I always work hard and continue to develop myself. I want to grow intellectually and spiritually.”
Inspired by graduates from his high school who attended and loved Azusa Pacific University, Jeong made the decision to move to the U.S. He knew he would fit right in with APU’s Christ-centered community. The Honors College played a significant role in his decision as well. “Since high school, I have wanted to study great books and philosophy, exploring fundamental questions of life through classic texts,” Jeong said.
Jeong’s goal is to one day help North Koreans experiencing oppression. He believes that God has a purpose for leading him here, and he hopes to use his international relations studies to further progress in unification. Jeong has had opportunities to meet North Korean refugees, hearing their testimonies and experiences as Christians who have lost loved ones to persecution. “It’s not a coincidence that I was born in South Korea,” Jeong said, “God has a purpose for that. While my goals sound idealistic and impossible, I believe that God can work even in impossible circumstances.”
As a student, Jeong has persevered through many challenges. He thanks his friends, professors, and the Writing Center staff, who have guided and assisted him while he adjusted to life in another country. Ultimately, he says that he owes his progress to God.
“God made me rely on Him,” Jeong said, “but through the help of those around me, God has provided me with support and grace in everything.”
Jeong loves the diverse, friendly culture at APU. Through interactions with friends of different backgrounds, he has broadened his love for others, strengthening his hope to create positive change through his scholarship and future career. Students who come across Jeong on campus are always greeted by a smile and wave, a true testament to jeong.
When he’s not spending time with friends or completing homework, Jeong enjoys watching baseball and soccer, as well as playing guitar and listening to worship music. The smiles he’s exchanged with students, songs he’s sung with friends, and deep questions he’s discussed with classmates, are just a few of the ways Jeong shines his light on campus. His diligence, perseverance, and love for others proves that with God, what seems impossible becomes possible, and with jeong, we deepen the community He has given us.
Posted: December 12, 2023