Have you ever heard of ‘Esquire’, the men’s fashion magazine? Even if fashion or magazines aren’t your thing, you may still have heard the name ‘Esquire’ before. It is published in 20 different countries and boasts the world’s largest market share. The Korean editor of this famous magazine, and the youngest fashion editor in Korea, is Min Hee-sik, a graduate of Dankook University (DKU). People with an interest in fashion are arguably impressed by his early success in the field. Aside from the impressive career milestone, Min is further remarkable because he achieved this success in a field totally unrelated to his major. For many Dankookians who worry about where they fit in, The Dankook Herald (DKH) chose to interview the remarkable alumni, and relate his journey to success.
|▲ The interviewee Min Hee-sik (Editor of Esquire)|
Q. Your job is completely unrelated to your major, so when did your change your career dream?
A. Frankly speaking, I never dreamed of doing this kind of work. I originally majored in mechanical engineering at DKU and had a job related to that field at a prominent company. However, shortly after I started working there, the May 5 general strike happened and I took part in the protest. As a result, I was fired. After that, I just stayed at home until my good friend introduced me to a magazine publisher. So I got this job by accident, but once I started, I felt like it was my true vocation. I was better suited for it than mechanical engineering. When I studied at university, I never appreciated calculus and mechanical mechanisms, but understanding culture was easier for me. I realized quickly that I had made the wrong choice in major. However, at that time, like many others still today, I thought the best way to earn a lot of money was to study engineering and find a job with an established company
Q. How did you manage to progress so quickly in the field at such a young age? Did you bring any special talents to the table?
A. l think it was part luck and part good timing in my case. In the 1980’s in Korea, women’s magazines were popular, but licensed magazines started to take root in Korea after 1993. As a result, the fashion license magazine Marie Claire, need staff and I was chosen. Maybe the reason why they choose me was because they wanted to be unconventional and try new things instead of specific and tested business ideas.
In the beginning, writing was not easy for me. However, with effort and training, my skills improved. After that, I was persuaded by the publisher to take on editing and now I am the longest serving fashion editor in Korea. Thinking back on this now, even for me, I wouldn’t take on a 30-year-old young man as an editor. It’s just doesn’t make sense.
Q. What skills are necessary for an editor-in-chief?
A. First, the editor-in-chief is the team leader, so people management is the most difficult challenge. Moreover, the editor-in-chief has to be more proactive than his reporters, because he is responsible for leading many clever people from all backgrounds. I was never concerned about my leadership skills because I was used to playing the role of leader. At university I was head of UNSA.
Q,. What should students, interested in this field, prepare in order to find work? Is there anything you want to tell DKU juniors who are chasing their dreams in the magazine industry?
A. Diverse experience and thinking are the most important skills for a magazine editor. Writers also have to have a reasonable base. One thing is clear, people who have a diverse background can think outside the box, so I recommend students take the time to read books and travel to enrich their life experiences. Reading books give us indirect experience, while traveling forces people to meet different people from different cultures, giving us direct experiences. Finally, I suggest writers learn to open their minds. They must convince their readers using evidence. For this reason, I recommend taking part in debates, where you can discuss ideas with other people. It helps develop a sense of logical and diverse thinking, both skills that are necessary for a successful editor.
Q. From this interview it is easy to get a sense that you have great job satisfaction, but many people do not. What is the secret to happiness at work?
A. My first job was at a mold design company. When I worked in there, the work was not fun, so I couldn’t wait for the weekend to arrive. The more and more I worked, the more I felt I was wasting my life. However, by the slightest of chances, I landed a job in my new field. This job is still as fun as it was when I began. I no longer wait eagerly for the weekend. Instead I can’t wait to get back to work, when I am at home on the weekends. Therefore, I’m sure that this job is best for me. I hope students can find what makes them happy and get a job that is best suited for themselves. This can be found by trying out different experiences until you know which one is right for you
Q. Do you have any advice for Dankookians?
A. I really want to recommend students read books. Students are not familiar enough with reading, discussing the content with others, and forming logical opinions of their own. These behaviors and habits are essential skills for an educated person. As the digital age takes over, more and more people are becoming stupid. They tend not to read long texts these days, as compared to previous eras. I think people have a dichotomous way of thinking. While they favor the digital age, it is actually the analog people, who are used to reading books and have lots of debate experience, who will ultimately rule the digital age people. So I hope many young people read books and watch films or travel overseas so they can be exposed to new ideas.
Through this interview with Min Hee-sik, the DKH learned his honest story of success. He emphasized reading, traveling, and open minded thinking. Although his major had nothing to do with his job, he strongly believes it was his true vocation and as a result, experienced more job satisfaction than the average person. If you don’t yet know what makes you happy, try various things that are related to your major and even things that aren’t. It may be hard to choose what to try at first, but in the end, the choices you make will guide you to the career you ultimately want.
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