A young life for the elderly is the aim of Amansa group“Elderly citizens need to stop thinking of themselves as helpless beings and find their own unique roles in society,” said Hong Soon-chang, 54, who founded “People who Make Beautiful Culture” (in short, Amansa, following the Korean pronunciation), a company which specializes in advice for the elderly.
Mr. Hong is no stranger to this demographic. A producer at the TV network KBS, he started his career in 1976 on the TBC program “Jangsoo Moodae,” which featured older singers. After TBC became KBS, he continued managing “Jangsoo Moodae,” as well as developing and producing other programs such as “100 Quiz Show” and “Hyo Gayojae” ― all catering to the older viewer.
In his spare time, he was also involved in volunteering for events and organizations including a telephone hotline for brides, employment fairs for the elderly and public contests for the “working elderly.” In 1999, Mr. Hong received a grand prize from the Samsung Foundation for his work with that segment of the population. This March, Mr. Hong founded his consulting company.
“With the average age of overall society increasing, the elderly have gradually started becoming our ‘problem area.’ We need to break this stereotype. What is so wrong with being an elderly citizen? Throughout the years, I have seen many inspirational elderly figures, including a 76-year-old man who completes a 100 kilometer bike ride daily, a 69-year-old woman who makes kimchi for her underprivileged neighbors and a 90-year-old marathon runner. These people’s lives are filled with passion and enthusiasm,” Mr. Hong said, adding, “To be an energetic elderly citizen, you need to have expert information and counseling about yourself and society.”
Mr. Hong is himself two years away from retirement but he tries to practice all he preaches. “I think its a class act for an elderly citizen to say ‘You sit. You’ve had a hard day studying’ to a younger person who offers their seat to them on public transportation.”
The consultations the company offers cover health, financial advice, dating, sex life, employment, travel, ‘silver towns,’ immigration, law, education, charity and welfare centers. Experts from various fields will provide advice, including Jelim Plastic Surgery and Aesthetic surgeon Yang Doo-byeong; Vivaldi Tours director Hong Jin-pyo; Sunsan oriental medicine clinic chairman Moon Jung-shik; Dr. Kim Kyung-soo of Kangnam St. Mary’s Hospital; Professor Kim Sei-chul, a doctor of urology at Chung-Ang University Medical Center; dermatologist Huh Chang-hoon of Seoul National University Bundang Hospital; Kang Kyu-nam, president of Durisilver, a matchmaking company for older people; and financial expert Nam Gee-yul. All have volunteered to lend their expertise.
“The dynamics of elderly society have changed. To keep up with these changes, consulting for the elderly needs to evolve from being a charity program for poor elderly citizens to a more specialized pursuit that caters to a wider range of issues,” Mr. Hong said.
The consulting company is only Mr. Hong’s first step. He also plans to launch a “blue jeans pageant for the elderly,” and he wants to start a school for the elderly. Fund raising events to support these projects, are in the works. Among them are events such as “Making Documentaries for Your Parents,” where people can create clips of historical events that occurred in their parent’s generation, as well as an auction of artwork by elderly citizens. Mr. Hong also plans to arrange business alliances with credit card companies so members can get added benefits.
The company will have an opening event including an exhibition of 21 art works, from Nov. 8 to Nov. 30 by artists including Kim Eun-ho, Park Sang-gwang and Sohn Gyeong-sik. The works were donated by the artists in support of Mr. Hong’s projects.
Postings from Amansa members on the organizations Web site(www.amansa.or.kr)
“ Since my husband passed away, I have been a single mother raising one son and two daughters. I miss being in a whole family, however. Even though I might not be as young as I used to be, I would like to enjoy the rest of my life with an honest and respectable man. I wouldn’t mind a younger man.” (Female, 54)
“ After three blind dates, I finally found the partner for me. I didn’t realize that meeting someone could make me so happy. Where do you think would be a good place for a second marriage ceremony?” (Male, 65)
“ I am planning a trip with three other couples. I don’t want the regular package deals they provide in tour companies, where everyone in the group has to stick together throughout the whole day. How can I make a leisurely, laid-back schedule for the trip?” (Female, 70)
“I would like to know more about eyelid surgery and botox procedures. Which part, the lower eyelid or the upper eyelid, do you think is the more effective area to start improving the appearance of my face? Also, to get rid of wrinkles, is botox better or a facelift?” (Female, 58)
by Lee Ji-young