Former salarymen and wage workers in South Korea are turning to more creative fields such as modelling and YouTube, due to being let go and replaced by a younger workforce.
This trend reflects the rapidly growing senior population in the country, many of which are unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. These career changes are a second chance at making a living, and living proof that life starts in your 60s.
Senior citizens in South Korea are proving it’s never too late to follow your dreams, switching to careers in modelling, music and YouTube.
Pictured above is Kim Chil-Doo, a 65-year old model who is turning heads on runways and in magazines not just in South Korea, but worldwide. He ran a restaurant for 27 years before giving it up to pursue his dream of modelling, becoming South Korea’s first senior model when he debuted at fashion week in Seoul last year.
“This was what I wanted to do when I was young, but gave up to make money, and I thought maybe it’s worth trying even now,” Kim told Reuters in a report about ageing South Koreans. “And I’m glad I did it – being a model is really fun. Senior? It’s just a label.”
A 2016 Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) economic survey found that half of South Korea’s elderly population over the age of 65 live in poverty. According to Professor Lee Ho-Sun from the Korea Soongsil Cyber University in Seoul has said that social welfare is a foreign concept to South Korea’s elderly, stating that “they don’t know how to ask for help, how much help they can get, or even who can help.”
Kim Chil-Doo isn’t the only senior citizen that has been making the most of a tough situation, proving that it’s really never too late to start over, and you’re never too old to achieve your dreams. Other senior citizens in South Korea have also taken up music careers, such as 77 -year old K-pop sensation Ji Byung-Soo. He was dubbed the next big thing in K-pop after a live television performance blew audiences away with what one YouTube user deemed a “level of sexy only possible at double 7.”
Proving that you don’t need to be a size 6 Instagram influencer to have a successful vlogging career is Park Makrye. The 72-year old grandma turned YouTube star who boasts almost a million followers. Makrye says that before she started filming YouTube videos, her life was “dead like rotten bean sprouts.” She quickly gained popularity for her authentic and hilarious approach to the typical vlogger-style videos. Posting under the name Korean Grandma, she gives refreshing documentation of her every-day life as a fashion-conscious pensioner, posting makeup tips, travel adventures, and delicious recipes.
“We used to think, ‘Since I’m over 70, my life is over,’” Park said in an interview with The Associated Press, “but as I started doing this, I realized life starts at 71 years old.”