Searching for second life in first dreams

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Searching for second life in first dreams

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Lee Gyeong-hun watches his wife milk a cow. Farming is a destiny that found Lee after eight years working for the Hyundai conglomerate. By Kwon Hyuk-jae

Having a second life is in vogue. After signing up some 10 million users worldwide, the virtual reality site www.secondlife.com has launched its Korean service, offering people the chance to live a new life in cyberspace with a different nationality and job.
It is an interesting phenomenon but there’s also something sad about it. It seems like people are flocking to virtual reality sites because they’re unhappy with their actual selves, but they don’t know if they can change their real lives for the better.
Here is the question. Is it that hard to start a real second life? Is the ceiling of reality that hard to crack?
Here are three people who have finished the first chapters of their lives and have successfully embraced a new beginning. There’s a professor-turned-boat maker, a designer-turned-wine expert and an employee of a conglomerate who has become a dairy farmer. All three have the same message: “Your dreams can come true, if you truly want them to.”

By Kim Han-byul, Hong Ju-yeon and Lee Young-hee JoongAng Ilbo

Lee Gyeong-hun, 37, starts his day at 4:30 a.m., before the sun rises, because he has a herd of impatient cows waiting to be milked at his farm in Boryeong, South Chungcheong. Milking is finished by 7 a.m. He then feeds the cows, eats breakfast and cleans his barns.
His afternoon is also dedicated to cows, beginning with the young calves and followed by another milking at 5 p.m. “My priority is my cows,” Lee said. “People who raise cows say we wouldn’t stop milking even for the funerals of our own fathers.”
Lee grew up watching his parents milk cows and did not believe it was a job he wanted to pursue.
Instead he found work as a temporary employee at Hyundai Construction, and he renewed his contract with the conglomerate every year for eight years.
However, he said life on the farm came back to him, as if it was his destiny.
He was working with a land reclamation unit in Seosan, South Chungcheong. Nearby was a cow farm, which had been established by late Hyundai founder, Chung Ju-young, who used it to breed cows for charitable organizations in North Korea.
One day, Lee heard the farm was in big trouble because its cows were running away because the property’s electric fence was out of order.
“I have a way with cows because I grew up with them, so I went to offer some help at the farm,” Lee said.
Soon afterwards he got a proposal from the farm unit to transfer there as a regular employee.
“I hesitated a little, but decided to accept the offer,” Lee said.
He found great pleasure in his new work, and he also met his wife.
In 1998, Hyundai’s Chung created a historic moment by herding hundreds of cows to North Korea. Some of the cows that made the trip were raised by Lee.
However, Lee started to lose interest in the Hyundai farm because he could not get a promotion, no matter how hard he worked, possibly because he did not have a university degree. He tendered his resignation in 2003, and started to look for a new job, which happened to be raising cows.
“After some hard thinking, I concluded that I know cows better than anything and it’s with them that I can do my best work,” Lee said. Lee is now raising 80 cows, and has seen strong growth in his milk production, from 300 kilograms a day to 995 kilograms. Still, he is not seeing much profit, as he is busy paying back a loan. However, he does not stop work to worry. “When I see my cows eating, it makes me happier than ever,” Lee said. “I feel that I have found the right job for me and that I shall be working with cows for the rest of my life.”

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