Culture designer interview <Jeju “beggar” Hoon> Uhm Jung-hoon
Jeju is sometimes called the “Samdado island”. This is because the island has a plentiful supply of three things; stone, wind, and women.
But in recent times, it’s not the stones or wind that are filling up Jeju, rather it’s the people moving to the island. One such person is Mr. Uhm Jung-hoon, the beggar who sings about traveling.
Culture reporter: Go Ha-nul,Translated by: Kim Yae-seol( Duncan Elder)
Daegu cool guy, come to Jeju and became a beggar
“I lived in Daegu when I was young and I was always lucky in whatever I choose to do. I started my career as a magazine reporter and became an editor and won some fame in that area. During that time I was busy acting cool but really I felt something was missing in my life. I felt empty like the emperor with no clothes. That wasn’t the real me.”
The old compass he had in his hand was broken and had led him down the wrong track. In order to walk down the right road, he came to Jeju in 2011 and has lived there since. That’s how he became the singing beggar while traveling in Jeju.
Learning in the real nature
“The hermit crabs, which we can find easily in Jeju, always find a house suitable for themselves. Then, when they grow bigger, they find another house. This is very natural. No need to take more or less than you need.”
Jung-hoon is ready to learn from the hermit crabs. Maybe he knows it already, but the nature in Jeju is the energy that is helping him finding himself.
Do what I can do
“Before I came to Jeju I was trying to think about what I could do there. Fortunately, the certificates and trophies I earned in my youth helped me remember my passions; singing, the environment, and sharing.
When I first arrived in Jeju, one of my friends kept his hair long for the Give Hair Campaign (donating hair to children with cancer). I thought I can do that too. I kept my hair long and began to travel in Jeju.
When my hair started to grow longer, I didn’t want to only give my hair, so I went to the people who I met on my trips and asked for their hair too. At the same time, since I gave them happiness, I asked them to donate some money. After cutting their hair, I got six hundred thousand won. I donated the hair and held a concert using the money.”
There was happiness in his sharing. Maybe it seems stubborn but he doesn’t think simply donating hair or money on its own is meaningful. Giving or sharing energy with others is his philosophy.
Later, he got two million won from people who agreed with his philosophy.
He smiled and told me, “ I didn’t want to simply donate this money either. Since one lap of Jeju island is 200km, I decided to go around the whole Jeju and donate money and energy.”
After this, many people started to join in with his way of sharing.
I do because I love it
“Whatever I do, I treat myself as the most important part. Doing charity is what I am interested in. Every year, I will donate the money I earn from the concert and the recycling products I made to Ji-woo, a kid with cancer. Even though it’s a small amount, it can help Ji-woo and give him the energy to fight the pain. To let him know that many people are fighting for him.”
Despite being poor in money, he doesn’t hope for congratulations after giving away a lot of things. Instead, he feels happy and satisfied when Ji-woo smiles at him. He thinks this is his reward.
We need people like him nowadays in society because people these days are way too smart. They are busy and try to calculate everything. They only see costs and profit, things like expensive cars, high-quality clothes, and big apartments.
The singing beggar is running again today, for communication, for sharing, and for charity.