Kyung-Mook Choi, born in 1961, retired at retirement age on December 31, 2021, and went to work at his new job on January 3 of the following year. The job of managing a building with a total floor area of 50,000 pyeong was waiting for him.
“I worked at my previous job until Friday, took the weekend off for New Year’s Day, and went to work on Monday. “I think I was really lucky.” (Mr. Choi)
There is not enough explanation to simply attribute it to luck. This is because there was a preparation process that he had worked hard to build up since his early 50s. Life after retirement feels daunting to many. How could he move on to the second act of his life without an interlude? What does that feel like again?
To meet him, I visited the management office of Munjeong Hyundai Knowledge Industry Center in Songpa-gu, Seoul on the 17th.
●Survive unconditionally, ‘thin and long’The management office manager’s office is located on the second basement level. He holds meetings here every morning and evening and receives interim reports from about 50 of his employees. He is responsible for the cooling, heating, hot water supply, and fire safety management of buildings with a weekday resident population of over 11,000 people.
According to Statistics Korea, the average age of involuntary retirement for Koreans is 49.5. It is said that reaching the legal retirement age of 60 is a stroke of luck. On the other hand, the time when Koreans stop working is delayed until the age of 72. This is due to insufficient preparation for retirement.
―How was it possible to get re-employed upon retirement?
“It’s thanks to the qualifications I earned from time to time. “I used my qualifications while working to build my career.”
He has three qualifications: safety, firefighting, and hazardous materials. The background to his careful preparation for retirement is his past history of ‘growing up’ earlier than others.
●Company went bankrupt 5 years after changing jobsHe majored in public administration and worked in the human resources department of a large construction company for about six and a half years before moving to Hanshin Public Works, which was entering the department store business at the time. However, the company went bankrupt in 1997, five years after he changed jobs, and after many twists and turns, was absorbed into a mid-sized distribution company.
“I was able to survive at first because the company was liquidated under the terms of employment succession, but more than half of my colleagues left the company. The company frequently restructured and paid attention. “As an employee of the merged company, I felt limited in many ways, such as being suddenly reassigned to the same position or not being promoted.”
His rank was manager when he changed jobs in 1992, but he remained at ‘deputy manager’ until one year before retirement.
It is common for subordinates who were receiving work orders from him until yesterday to come to their boss. As I reached my late 40s, I began to feel that I was older.
“I overcame that humiliation and endured until the end. I’ve seen people who went out on a whim regret it without exception. Everyone unanimously said, ‘Persevere even if it’s hard.’ “Some people advised, ‘The best retirement plan is to retire at full age, regardless of the means available.’”
Mr. Choi is a typical Korean baby boomer (born between 1955 and 1963 ). Although he has a lot of pride and a loud voice, he draws a line between himself and his peers who are ‘old-timers’ and uses ‘eagle-strike’ techniques in front of the computer, and has chosen to survive ‘the thin and long’.
He silently followed orders that he could not understand, and when he was assigned to a local area, he worked even harder. He went to a computer academy early in the morning and learned PowerPoint, Photoshop, video production, and was equipped with faster information skills than young people in their 20s. The company also came to visit him whenever it needed to write an important report. Even though he didn’t get promoted, he is confident that he made a living.
●Deputy Manager Man-nyeon’s sorrow, “The certificate will protect me.”My last position at my previous job was Manager of Management Support. He mainly worked in building and service management, which opened his eyes to the fact that he had relevant qualifications.
―Is it worth taking the certification challenge while working at a company?
“I studied seriously for about 3 years, but it is really difficult to study for exams while working normally. Technical certification is generally advantageous for engineering graduates, and the terminology is unfamiliar to liberal arts graduates. Just looking at a book makes me sleepy, and even if I look at it, I forget about it… . “
I failed several times in the third round of the exam, but as I repeated it, my skills gradually improved.
“During working hours, I worked hard at the company, but I also made the most of my time, including nights and weekends. Once I was on track, I would go to the library right after work and study for an average of two hours, and when exams were imminent, I would come home at 12 o’clock at night, wash up, and study for another hour or two. “At times like this, I think I slept and studied for three to four hours a day.”
●If you have qualifications and experience, you will have better opportunities.However, certification does not guarantee a good job.
“You need to have experience to be put into the field right away. In my case, after obtaining my industrial safety engineer license, I gained experience by holding my license for about three years until I retired.”
―What do you mean?
“To gain experience, you must report your qualifications and licenses to an official agency such as the district office, fire department, or Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency and engage in actual activities. I inquired with the company in advance. ‘If I get the qualification, I will get the license, so can I do it?’ The personnel manager said, ‘Just get the certification, and we’ll talk later.’ “They said there would probably be an allowance as well.”
After obtaining his license, he reported to the district office through his company as a ‘general disaster manager’ and worked there for three years.
―Can other retirees follow suit?
“After obtaining the certification, if you negotiate well with the company and report to an official agency as the company’s ‘general disaster manager,’ the period of work will be recognized as experience. Then, it can lead to employment upon retirement.
Even if you don’t necessarily go down that path, it will be easier to get a job if you have an ‘engineer’ qualification in electrical safety, firefighting, etc. For example, if you get a firefighting certificate, you can work in an apartment building. “If you work as an engineer and gain experience and ability, you can try to become a management manager.”
●“When you retire, everything becomes the same.”Of course, the future is unknown and uncertain for everyone. He was no different.
“With one year left before retirement, I was constantly토토사이트 worrying about ‘what will I do for a living?’ Although he has prepared for certification, he does not know how this will be accepted in society. “He was determined to get a job as a cleaner somewhere.”
However, six months before retirement, I looked for a job online and sent my resume to many places, and I received a call from one company asking me to come right away.
“I complained to the company that it seemed like the right thing to do was to finish the job by December 31st, which was set as my retirement date. But they said they needed someone right away, so I couldn’t go. “After that, I was told that my current job could wait, so I decided to go here.”
As a management director, his annual salary is around 50 million won. He is covered by the 4 major insurance policies and a 5-day work week.
“Managing such a large building gives me a great sense of responsibility and pride. I’m happy working here. Usually, even if retirees find a second job, it is difficult to stay there for more than two years and it is difficult to revive their careers. I didn’t realize it, but her wife said so. “These days, I really like the relaxed expression on my face when I leave work.”
●“I am ‘Mr. Choi,’ not ‘Manager Choi.’”―What advice would you give to people retiring? .
“You have to let go of the past. Once you retire and go out, everything becomes the same. Regardless of the position, whether the level of education is high or low, the salary when re-employed is usually around 2 million won. Among the drivers working here now, there are graduates from Seoul National University, former bank branch managers, and civil servants.
There are many cases where people in their early 50s were restructured and went through prenatal care and got their licenses. In my view, they are ‘awakened’ people. “Only a person who is enlightened like this can let go of himself and work with others.”
―Anyway, doesn’t everyone lose their strength when they retire?
“Judging by their voices and attitudes on the phone, there are many people who have not been able to let go of the past. The higher the status, the more likely it was. “Everyone is the same after retirement, and if you don’t accept that, you will only suffer.”
When former employees call him ‘Manager Choi,’ he says, “Just call me ‘Mr. Choi.’” On the other hand, it is said that the moment he felt that a friend who was promoted quickly and once became his boss treated him with a boss mentality even after retirement, he cut off that friend.
●The remaining dream is to become an engineerHe still has a dream left.
He said, “He was studying to become a technician and failed several times. A qualification such as a firefighting equipment technician earns a minimum annual salary of 80 million won or more, and as long as you maintain good health, you can work until the age of 80. The problem is that the test is difficult. I think I need to study full-time for two years to prepare properly.
On the other hand, I also think that we should have some fun before it’s too late. When your legs are strong, shouldn’t you go on a trip with your wife? . “I don’t want to give up on the challenge, but I have a lot to worry about these days.”
The qualifications for applying to become a technician are strict. Even after obtaining his driver’s license, he will have to build a long career again. He went to the Human Resources Development Service of Korea, went through an interview and screening, and was recognized as eligible to apply. It was helpful not only for the three years I had applied for certification at my previous job, but also for the 20 years I worked in building facility management there.
-Do you ever think of yourself as a ‘workaholic’?
“It just happened that way. Last Chuseok, there was a 6-day holiday. I think I took the longest break in my entire life. At my previous job, even if I had a week of summer vacation, I would take 2 or 3 days off before going to work. “The work of facility management itself was difficult to relax in, and even higher-ups tended to subtly pay attention to it.”
● “At this age, exercise is more important than studying.”―How long do you plan to work?
“I think I can work at my current job until I quit. For now, I’m looking at it until I’m 65, and then I’ll have to look at the situation. However, everything is based on health. At this age, I think maintaining physical strength is more important than studying.
Since I hire a lot of people, I know things when I see them. What is the state of his health? It is difficult to work if your actions, speech, or gait are slurred. This applies to me too. So these days, exercise is my top priority.”
Instead of running marathons, which I was passionate about in my 40s and 50s, I do strength training and walking these days.
“Not long ago, I went to my hometown for an alumni meeting, and out of 12 people, I was the only one on active duty. My friends made fun of me by asking, ‘What on earth is the structure of your brain that allows you to work until now?’ “When I see my friends praising me and envy me, I feel like I’m doing well, and when I get to buy food for my friends again, I think, ‘This is happiness.’”
Have all the regrets of not being able to fully blossom in the first act have been resolved? As I watched him smile as he began the second act with great preparations, I wondered if this was the success story of an ordinary person.