Recently the number of people who want to enhance the quality of life has increased, and for that reason people are now turning to farming. The trend was established as the number of people turning to farming reached 10,000. People may consider farming the hottest new trend, but there is one who turned to farming much earlier than the others. That person is non-other than Gachon University’s alumnus, Jung Sung Geun, class of 94 from the Department of Clothing. He is currently a host of one of the nation’s largest online communities, and has been actively working as a farmer since choosing to become one in 1997. Let’s hear his story.
1. I heard that you turned to farming in YeoJu in 1997 after you had worked for a law office for 7 years. What was the decisive reason that made you turn to farming?
It was for our children’s education. In 1998, there was an issue of bribery at school, which I didn’t like, and I also thought that children who grew up feeling and experiencing the change of the four seasons are more creative and humane. I just put that idea into action.
2. It is said that if we turn to farming, many things would change. What are some of the changes that you feel?
Many things have changed, but the biggest change is the mental ease that helps me clear my thoughts. My view has changed on how to live more harmoniously. Living day by day with nature has also allowed me great health.
3. Are you satisfied with the life that you have chosen? What is the biggest satisfaction?
I’m highly pleased. One of the fine pleasures is that I can have a bonfire anytime I want. I can grow my own vegetables in the garden and build a house in my own way. But, the biggest happiness is living with my family without any quarrel with others. I don’t have to worry about arguing with others about parking spaces, and my children can run around having fun, without having to worry about the neighbors. Aren’t the pleasures in life the simplest things?
4. Have you ever regretted your decisions?
No, I never regret. If anything, I regret not choosing to do this earlier.
5. You have lived two lives, urban and rural. What is the biggest difference between urban and rural?
The urban apartment life is closed from nature, people, soil, and wind. But the rural life communicates with the four seasons and neighbors, and nature. That is the biggest difference for me.
6. How do you overcome the inconvenience of life, such as in terms of transportation, network communication, education, and commercial facilities?
The roads and transportation have developed in the rural areas, just like the city. We have no problems with the internet, education, and supermarkets here. The only problem we have is that we do not have a general hospital and public transportation.
7. You said that we have to study about farming and learn distribution, sales, and marketing. Is there some type of education system working through your website? If so, how does it work?
There are many sites about farming. First, there is the ‘kinongsamo’ website (http://cafe.daum.net/refarm) that has detailed farming information. Also there is a website of the Center for People who return to farming and to rural areas (www.returnfarm.com) that is operated by the government. You can find education information on turning to farming at www.agriedu.net. You can take the course anytime since the offline education is often held in clubs, organizations, and local governments.
8. Please tell us about ‘BT farming (the technology that artificially controls the use of crops and livestock )’. How does it work?
For example, when we create a vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease we make a toxin that controls pathogenic organisms, a dielectric detoxification can’t be possible without up-to-date IT. Though Korea has the skill set, the lack of understanding in farming is the problem. The government has to support it.
9. I think that turning to farming is good to empty our minds for mental recuperation. But when I looked around the website, I noticed that there are a lot of required materials. Isn’t it a burden? Or is it different for other people?
Though people turn to farming to take a rest, it is a reality not a fantasy. The cost is different for purpose and reason. Generally, the cost is between 50 million won and 300 million won.
10. It is said that ‘if the crops failed for 1 year, it would last 5 years.’ And I heard that most people that decided to turn to farming were tired of the city life. What do you think these people need when they fail?
I think that they have to be one with nature. Without failing, we can’t achieve success. If you don’t have a mind that fluctuates between hopes and fears, you can’t reach a sustainable life.
11. Generally, people want to turn to farming, but they also have a fear about turning to farming. What do you recommend for these people?
I don’t want to recommend farming unless they are passionate about becoming a farmer. Farming is no easy task and you must have patience and your own philosophy. The positive aspect of farming is the freedom with time. There are many things that CAN be started out¡¦ for example, establish a business with a rural item, not an urban item. The good Internet infrastructure and SNS that go near cities are waiting for you. Live up to the challenge!
12. Please tell us about your plan and how the plan ‘kiningsamo’ (the group of supporters of returning to farming) is being promoted.
In May, we are hosting a farming festival with MBC and the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries at SETEC. Please come and join us and find out more information about farming. We are also planning to start an online newspaper to strengthen the education of farming.
13. Any words of wisdom for us university students?
It saddens me to see university students trying to build their careers by stacking work. Be interested in today’s issues and society not just your major. Also be courageous and fight against injustice.
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He rebuilt his life and now seems to be satisfied with his life. And he is trying to introduce a new field for others. Turning to farming is best for him and he has pursued his happiness by knowing what was best for him early in his career. I hope that our students also find their own paths and solutions for their future and do not become stereotypes of today’s society.