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“Retirement Because of Age Limits? Not Here”

Posted March. 27, 2005 23:18,   


Make Up for Deficiency with Technique–

After retiring in 1994 due to the age limit from his 30 year-old job Hyundai Heavy Industries, president Kim re-employed himself at a supplier company. Changing work at several subcontractors, he became confident that he could “do fairly well in such work by gathering colleagues,” so he gathered 12 friends who retired in April 2001 due to age limits and set up a company.

Supplier firms, who were originally reluctant to grant orders because only “oldies” worked there, started increasing their orders as Kim’s company delivered tidy parts by their due dates. Annual sales soon topped one billion won, and the company was in the black. With the shipbuilding business winning increasing orders, the company became busy.

Production director Lee Sang-guk (67) said, “Although [we] lack ‘muscular strength’ compared to the young, our technique and teamwork is better, so our productivity is higher than that of our competitors.” In addition, the company received the “Excellent Supplier Award” from Shinhan Machinery last year thanks to its high quality and productivity.

President Kim, who also participated in labor union activity in Hyundai Heavy Industries in the late 1980s, stated, “Being unable to sleep when delivery due dates near, I now understand the heart of an entrepreneur. Since the work environment improved greatly, labor campaigns should change, too.”

Recovered Health and Confidence from Working–

“After retiring due to the age limit, I even had hypochondriac symptoms. Yet, after resuming work at this company, I regained my health and confidence. When my daughter tells me that I’m a great mother, I am elated.”

Chun Kang Mi-ja (female, 66), who worked at Hyundai Heavy Industries as a female welder and retired in 1997 due to the age limit, said that she even recovered youth after getting re-employed.

Other “old workers” of Innovation Co. Ltd also told similar stories. They also had no discontent about their salary levels. Although their current salaries are less than half of what they had received before retirement, they said that the money is of great help to their living because most of their children became independent.

The most elderly of the company, Jun Kuk-myung (70) said enthusiastically, “What is more important than money is that [we] have work to go in the morning. I still can work for another 10 years.”

As its age level is high, the company pays great attention to its employees’ health. It makes an employee who has even the lightest health problem receive a diagnosis at a designated hospital, and fully rest.

Experts explained that Innovation Co.’s case can become an excellent alternative in our society, which is not ready for aging society.

The LG Economic Research Institute’s deputy general director, Lee Choon-geun, said, “If companies actively promote their retirees to start up businesses, it would be very helpful, not only to increase the utilization of the aged population, but also solve unemployment among the aged.”

Sung-Won Joo swon@donga.com sanjuck@donga.com