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[Opinion] Men`s Latter Life

Posted August. 14, 2003 21:44,   


˝I believe that the prime years of our lives are 50s,˝ said 64-year-old Kim Jong-jin, who recently passed three college entrance tests for the spring semester of 2004, during an interview with the Dong-a Ilbo yesterday. His `triumph` came after six years of hard work – he took a middle and high school course after his retirement in 1997. He wanted to do something that could be of value for this society, so he decided to study. Yet, to him, feelings of achieving something must have mattered more than being socially recognized. From the picture, his face was shining like that of a young man.

We are now living in an age when men in their 50s are called `Saojeong (meaning retirement at 45)` or `Oryuk-do (meaning a 56-year-old manager who still picks up his salary).` If we refer to people in their 40s through 60s as middle age, we now often see middle-aged men stop working for companies. The rub is their lives after retirement. Most of those men who had just worked hard not to lag behind have no plan for their later lives. Books talking about middle-aged men`s lives, such as `Later Lives of Men,` `Six Secret of Happy Middle Age,` `We Are Not Afraid of Middle Age Any More,` `Becoming Forty` and `Virtue of Growing Older,` seem to reflect the crisis of Korean men in their 40s through 50s.

Men begin to lose masculine hormone and have more famine hormone as they turn 30. This is why middle-aged men grow emotionally sensitive and become womanish. Some scholars say that people begin to think more about the meaning of life and desire in their 50s. The middle age is a second adolescence, when individuals try to find their true identities. Psychologist Carl Jung referred to the middle age as `the noon of life` citing people reach their primes years of emotion and passion. It is sad, therefore, there are many men who get lost in their `golden time` of life not knowing what to do and where to go.

Life after retirement is not extra life, but latter life. From the life cycle`s perspective, you are facing a downhill, but it is also a new beginning for a new life. It is foolish to do nothing to prepare for the latter life. Great French writer Victor Wigo once said, ˝40 is an old age for young men and 50 is a young age for old men.˝ You must lead a happy young life for an old man as you grow older.

Song Moon-hong, Editorial Writer, songmh@donga.com