As a member of the Customer Service Planning Team at Daum Communications, Yang Hee Jae was transplanted from offices in Seoul to Jeju City in 2004. Her transfer was the beginning of Daum’s relocation to the island which was officially completed on April 13 with the unveiling of their headquarters, Daum Space. Yang, 33, recently sat down with The Weekly to talk about the transition from the bustling metropolis to this sleepy island, the envy of her friends and family members, and finding a balance between work and life here on Jeju.
▲ Daum's Yang Hee Jae. Photo by Angela Kim
How long did you work for Daum Communications and when did you come to Jeju?
It’s my 11th year at Daum Communications. I came down to Jeju in April of 2004. I was one of the frontier members. I went to Seoul for about a year or so for my wedding, so I lived on Jeju for seven years.
What was your first impression of Jeju back in 2004?
At first, I felt as if it was a picnic. I didn’t think I would stay here for more than two years. But now I’m used to living on the island, I feel confined when I visit Seoul.
How did Daum’s relocation affect your work?
Two of our team members are still in Seoul. They stay in the Seoul office to communicate with other teams and departments. We do our jobs here and they do their jobs in Seoul. I don’t think it’s much different.
Did anything interesting happen when you first came to Jeju?
Since most of us communicate through email or messenger, there was no work-related discomfort. However, being away from my family and friends was rough. I would sometimes go near the airport and cry as I see flights depart. I would fly to Seoul about three times a month, but now I only visit Seoul once every two months or so.
What do your friends and family in Seoul think of you working on Jeju?
Everyone says they’re jealous, but most people think it is impossible for them to come to Jeju to live. I often upload pictures of Jeju on the Web for my friends to see. Some say they’d move to Jeju if his or her company was located here.
What makes Jeju a more attractive place to live compared to Seoul?
For me, the toughest part of living in Seoul was the commuting time. It usually took me an hour and a half to get to work and vise versa. With traffic, sometimes it took longer. Best part of living on the island is that there is no traffic.
Also, housing prices are reasonable. Most people my age living in Seoul want to buy a house, but house prices are not affordable. But I recently bought a house [here] with my husband.
Did you find a balance between work and life here in Jeju?
In terms of self-development, where you are doesn’t really influence what you’ll do. Hard workers will work hard regardless of where they work.
When I was in Seoul, I never came to the office on weekends. But here on Jeju, me and my co-workers come to the office to take care of our little garden, to drink coffee and to just relax.
Also, we get to experience things we don’t have easy access to in Seoul.
I started to learn to golf on Jeju. In Seoul, I wanted to learn, but I couldn’t because I never had time. Now, I’m the best female golfer among the Daum Jeju employees.
Likewise, some of my coworkers are learning leisure sports like horseback riding and skin SCUBA.
I think those are some of the biggest merits of living on Jeju.
Where do you think is the most beautiful place on Jeju?
I love Mt. Halla in winter with the snow, as well as oreum (volcanic cones). I like the view looking down from Darangshi oreum because I can see Udo, Seongsan Sunrise Peak, and the ocean.
Were there any inconveniences?
Because there’s no department store on the island, I often have to shop online. Though, we have to pay 2,500 won more to get items shipped to Jeju, we all make do.
Also, visiting my relatives during holidays is not easy. My in-laws live in Jinju, so I have to fly from Jeju to Jinju, from Jinju to Seoul, then back to Jeju.
What is your favorite spot in Daum Space.1?
It has only been two weeks, so it’s hard to tell. Other than my desk, I’d say Illy Café. There are a few beverage bars where I can get instant coffee, but it can’t beat the taste of Illy’s coffee.
How is it to live on Jeju?
I feel that I can work hard on the weekdays and enjoy my weekends. Living here is a journey in itself. It’s different everyday. On my days off, I could go see flowers, the ocean, mountains — Jeju has a lot to offer. Just last week, I went to see the cherry blossoms at the Jeju National University Campus.
For now, I’m living on the island because I have my job, but I want to live here even if I leave Daum, if I can.
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