▲ “I’ve learned that if I’m really tired or I’m unhappy, if I tell myself, ‘Oh I can do this,'my body just follows my mind.”Photo by Elizabeth Holbrook
Jet-setter, businesswoman, guest professor: Kim Mi Jung is the type of person who has mastered the art of making every minute count, leaving the rest of the world wondering if there are more than 24 hours in her day. Independent and strong, Kim is always down for venturing outside her comfort zone in the quest to try some-thing new and different. While her company focuses on the fantasy world, Kim prefers to do her gaming on the field. Participating in Jeju’s ultimate Frisbee tournament for the past three years, she claims the originality of the sport is what keeps her coming back. “Frisbee is special because it’s a sport without judgment. Both women and men play together. We have to understand each other’s minds and opinions,” she says.
Why did you move to Jeju? My company wanted to make a new project. They asked me if I would be willing to relocate. I was so happy to come here because I love Jeju.
What does your company do? My company makes online games such as Maple Story and Cart Rider. In 1995 we launched the first online graphics game in the world. At that time, Japan and America were making package games, but Korea took the next step and made the first online game-it was my company, NEXON, who did it.
How long have you been working at NEXON? Since 1997, so about 13 years.
Can you tell me a little more about your job? I’m working on the new project in Jeju, but I also support employees and make sure they work in good conditions. I have very many different roles, but I love that. My job ranges from making new designs in the office and creating special events to making new support systems. People who work in a company need someone to help them. That way they can not only succeed but enjoy their job as well. I help them do that.
What are some systems you have created? In Korea there is a popular game called "3, 6, 9." I made a vacation system based on that game. After someone has worked three years at my company, they can get two additional weeks of vacation and some extra money. Three years later, they can get two more weeks of vacation and a little more money. After nine years, the employee can have a month of vacation — I made this system a really long time ago and many Korean IT companies have copied it since then.
What is the most challenging part of your job? My job is supporting every employee, but at the same time I have to support my company. Finding the balance is the most difficult thing.
Are you permanently based in Jeju now? No, I have to fly back and forth from Seoul every week to work at the main NEXON branch. I’m in Jeju from Saturday to Wednesday, and the other days I’m in Seoul.
So, essentially, it’s like you have two jobs? Actually, I have three jobs. I’m also a guest professor at Jeju National University. Every Monday I teach a class on media storytelling.
How do you find the energy to keep up with your busy lifestyle? Many people ask me that. The thing is, I do get very tired, but once I’m at work I focus on my job and my exhaustion just disappears. When I was in middle school, I had to take a physical test and run for a long time. After 30 minutes, everyone else was tired, but I kept on running. My teachers later told me that since I focused on moving my hands, my feet and legs just followed. So, I’ve learned that if I’m really tired or I’m unhappy, if I tell myself, “Oh I can do this,” my body just follows my mind.
Have you always been so strong and independent? It’s really ironic because when I was 17 or 18, I really wanted to get married at an early age, but suddenly my mind changed. I’m not really sure why. I think it’s because I’ve always been the type of person that if I get a task, I work very hard to complete it. After graduating university, I got a job and just started to focus on my position. I think that’s how the change suddenly happened.
What do you like to do you in your free time? I love to watch movies and dramas from different countries. Every entertainment media story has its own culture in it. I love learning about new cultures. That’s why I enjoy traveling, watching dramas, and spending time with foreigners.
How do you spend your time with foreigners? I have played in the ultimate Frisbee tournament for the past three years.
How did you first find out about Frisbee? A few years ago I met a Canadian couple that introduced me to the sport. At first I felt really nervous because everyone was so strong and competitive, but at the same time I was very curious. It was a new sport for me and I love to run, so I was very attracted to Frisbee.
What do you like most about the sport? I like to exercise, but it’s easy to give up when I’m alone. When I’m on a team, I feel responsible to them, and it really pushes me to work hard. Also, Frisbee is special because it’s a sport without judgment. Both women and men play together. We have to understand each other’s minds and opinions. It’s very exciting. I love it.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Jeju? Mount Halla. It has such a good view. The air is so fresh and it’s so beautiful. When my friends come to visit me, I always suggest we go to Halla Mountain.
Were there any adjustments you had to make when moving to Jeju? In Seoul people tend to say their opinion very openly, but Jeju people really control their minds and their opinions. It’s a little hard for me, because I don’t understand what they want. However, except for this one thing, I love everything else about living in Jeju.
What are some of the main differences you find bouncing back and forth from Seoul and Jeju? In Seoul people are always hurrying and crowding around, but Jeju is very relaxing and clean. When I arrive in Gimpo Airport I breathe a sigh of anxiety, but when I arrive in Jeju’s airport I breathe a sigh of relief.
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