What true joy is aboutHow do you define happiness? Many think that working long hours for professional success is the way to happiness, and if it happens to include a posh mansion and the latest sports car, even better.
For some of the people the JoongAng Ilbo has met, however, that’s the farthest path from true happiness. These people may look poor, but they have their own definition of happiness. Most important, they have no doubt that they’re happy.
Im Gi-jong, 46, a messenger who carries loads up and down Mount Seorak, says he’s happy because he can help people in need, even though he himself doesn’t have much.
His only splurge is a contribution to nursing homes. More than half of his income goes to facilities for the disabled. “It just makes me happy. I hope my disabled wife can share the joy with me,” Mr. Im says.
When her 10-year-old son told her that he wanted to become a Buddhist monk, Nam Nan-hee, 48, just smiled and said, “You’ve learned to think deeply.” Ms. Nam, who established a school of ecology, is now living in a secluded house deep in Mount Jiri with her son, Kim Gi-beom, after the school was swept away by a typhoon in 2000.
And here’s a cook, Han Gi-chun, 56, whose primary concern is not receiving more guests but in treating his few customers right. Mr. Han says what he offers his customers is not good food but also happiness.
Meet these folks and others who refuse to participate in the usual rat race.
by Chun Su-jin