Lim seeks to gain data analysis and quantitative methodology skills to better evaluate the efficacy of policy decisions.
Headshot of Sohyun Lim
Sohyun Lim

Over the course of ten years working with public financial institutions in South Korea, Sohyun Lim, MPP Class of 2025, learned firsthand the importance of effective policymaking—as well as the dilemmas policymakers face.

“I have worked on a policy designed to solve the household debt crisis by exempting low-income households from their debt, and I was confident that the work brought real relief to debt-burdened Koreans. However, some applicants I previously approved subsequently returned months later seeking to alleviate new debts. Moreover, others who were ineligible for the program—because they had repaid their own debts—complained about the ‘moral hazard’ that the policy had created. This was the first time that I began to wonder about policy effectiveness.”

Another policy Lim was interested in was relocation for public institutions. "The idea was that as public institutions relocated, the employees would also move to those regions, leading to economic development in those regions. However, most chose to commute from their original homes to the new locations instead of settling in the new regions. I wanted to know whether the policy could still be effective when people were not settling as the policy originally intended, and the results confirmed my suspicion that it was not." This experience led Lim to pursue a master's degree in public administration at Ewha Womans University, where she undertook her own research to seek answers to similar research questions.

These experiences—among others—further motivated Lim to dive even deeper into the world of policy analysis. “Data can provide us with so much information, and I felt that if I had more tools to interpret data, I could better evaluate the efficacy of policy decisions—and eventually contribute to designing better policies and improving existing ones.”

When considering graduate programs, Lim said the Master of Public Policy at the Harris School of Public Policy stood out. “I was drawn to Harris’ emphasis on economic analysis, data skills, and statistics—not to mention the focus on programming languages like R and Python, which are invaluable for effective policy analysis. With my previous master’s in public administration, I knew that Harris would be the place to gain those skills and hone my expertise.”

Thus far, Lim said the program has been exactly what she had hoped for. “I have really enjoyed the Core curriculum—especially Statistics. We really engage with R and gain experience interacting with real-world datasets. It’s been a great opportunity to practice these skills.” After the Core, Lim plans to pursue a specialization in data analytics to gain more quantitative knowledge and practical skills in statistical software, including Python. Additionally, having recently developed an interest in environmental issues, she is trying to integrate her professional financial expertise with these issues to enact positive change.

Lim has also embraced opportunities to get involved in student organizations tackling the issues she is passionate about. “As a fellow of Harris Community Action, working with nonprofit organizations enables me to have some applied experience and be connected to the large Chicago community."

Lim said that although she had visited the US as an exchange student in 2010, the prospect of stepping away from her job for two years and leaving South Korea was initially daunting. “However, I am confident that Harris is the best place for me to gain the skills to successfully pursue my passions and focus on the work that I want to do.”