NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. –
In honor of National Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Defense Logistics Agency Distribution spotlights Yong Mi Yi, administrative support assistant at DLA Distribution Korea.
Always be ready. That’s the motto of. Yi, who worked as a waitress before joining DLA, understood immediately the opportunity and turning point her career had taken when taking on her current role within DLA.
Not knowing anything at all about DLA, Yi applied for, and accepted, a position based on her gut feeling and would soon apply lessons and natural cultural norms to her role. Her motto of “always be ready” would be a driving force behind a lot of her decisions and above the call actions that propelled her career forward.
Yi maintains what she calls her own “point of contact bible.” Not only does she maintain a list of contacts for various efforts on DDDK, but also of other host nation units. Her ability to maintain a curated and strong relationship with DLA customers is an invaluable asset that keeps operations moving.
The way Yi frames this mindset and task is something that is culturally rooted in her upbringing. Yi does not view this as a job requirement, or something that directly impacts operations. She views her efforts purely as helping others, and in order to best help other she must “always be ready.” The mental focus Yi maintains in helping others is what elevates everyone around her into keeping DDDK operating as efficiently as possible.
The drive to help others, willingly and immediately, is a part of Korean culture that manifested itself most recently during the coronavirus outbreak. Despite a large outbreak happening immediately in the vicinity of Daegu, employees immediately and voluntarily took to wearing masks and taking steps to protect each other. Despite hundreds of new cases occurring in Daegu, no infections happened on DDDK which paved the way for ongoing mission success.
Yi describes this with the Korean phrase “pali-pali.” According to Yi “pali-pali” means “quickly” or “hurry up,” but in a cultural mindset rather than direct meaning. The “pali-pali” aspect of Korean culture is what drives Yi and her co-workers to move quickly and efficiently toward success that places others first.
The quick and efficient drive of Yi and others at DDDK is what allows them to maintain a warfighter first mentality that combines the core values and DLA workforce culture with Korean culture in a way that is adaptable. Despite what other DLA Distribution customers or other Host Nation units may operate as, DDDK balances “pali-pali” with warfighter first in a culturally driven selfless effort.
Yi, individually, has recognized areas where she needed to improve to succeed in the mission, and also takes upon herself the role of being a good example of DLA Distribution in her dealings with other units. She has improved her computer skills and English.
One major change Yi has championed is how the change of command is conducted. Yi has taken it upon herself to blend Korean culture into the ceremony through things as simple as food and decorations. It creates a more welcoming atmosphere for the incoming commander and gives the good impression the DDDK workforce is proud of.
Yi is but one of many within, not only DDDK, but the entire DLA Distribution workforce that bring cultural lessons and mindset to the table that enhances and betters DLA.