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Humans of Hongik University

When I was in elementary, middle and high school, we were all friends with each other. Even though I was not familiar with someone, I could make an acquaintance of him, because there were always others who were familiar with both me and him. However, when I grew up as a university student and became an adult, I needed to actively try to make a new friend or greet someone with a friendly hello at first.

Nevertheless, there are some people who have tried to break this clumsiness. Also, there are some people who may come to you and say ‘hello’ with warm words, trying to know who you are. They are members of Humans of Hongik University (hereafter HOHU). They post a picture and a unique story of people related to Hongik University on HOHU’s Facebook page each weekday.

You might already be posted on the webpage. If not, look around you! They may be coming to interview you today. Or they are interviewing someone around you. Have you seen them yet? They will go to say ‘hello’ to you tomorrow. If you can’t wait for the day they come, you can find them first, like we did.

In contrast to the usual, The Hongik Tidings went to them and heard HOHU’s story. We are going to tell you their story, which I have always admired.

HT Could you introduce yourselves and the group, Humans of Hongik University?

DH I’m Dong-hoon, Park (hereafter DH), who is in the class of ’11 in the department of French Language and Literature. Also, I am the person who started HOHU and manages HOHU’s Facebook page, now.

SM I’m Soo-min, Gang (hereafter SM), who is in the class of ’15 in the department of German Language and Literature. I played the role of interviewer in HOHU. I think it is awkward and amazing that I am an interviewee now.

DH We are a project group that interviews people in Hongik University. It started in March 2016. We aimed to share people’s stories in Hongik University.

HT Why did you decide to start Humans of Hongik University?

DH I had watched a few series of the interviews, such as Humans of New York and Facebook posts in other universities. One day, I thought it seemed like a great idea to start interviewing in Hongik University, because I thought especially students of Hongik University have their own strong personalities with unique and various stories. Therefore, I started to make a page, Humans of Hongik University. After that, I blindly started to go around the university and to ask people for an interview. Fortunately, they responded to the calls. Then, it encouraged me to think, “I can start HOHU”

HT How does HOHU work?

SM At first, DH had interviewed and posted on the page by himself. However, since he didn’t have enough private time, he thought he couldn’t manage HOHU, unless he recruited more members. Now, there are five interviewers, two photographers and two SNS managers (Facebook and Instagram), who represent all nine members in HOHU. Each of the five interviewers works each weekday, setting a time to meet with a photographer. Then, the interviewer and photographer wander around campus and interview people. Then they give the contents to two SNS managers. Finally, a new interview is posted on each of the web-pages each weekday.

HT What is the most frequent question in all of the interviews?

DH I always first ask them, “What do you do, these days?” It is the most basic and essential question to encourage their story in an interview. Also, I finally ask them, “Do you have any words that you should have said but you were too shy to say in person?” Then, they say heartfelt and honest words such as ‘Thanks’, ‘Sorry’, ‘Cheer up’ and so on. People also want to hear these sincere words.

SM I always ask them “Do you have any worries now?” As we just became an adult or we are still mere rookies in society, I thought most of us have trouble adapting ourselves to the new surroundings. In addition, I ask them “What do you think of your future after graduation?” In fact, I think preparation for a better future is why we enrolled in university and studied in it. Therefore, I wonder what each of them are preparing for their future.

HT What is the most memorable interview for you?

DH In fact, I want to interview not just students also workers in Hongik University. So, I interviewed a security guard who works in the central library of our campus, which was my fifth interview after I started with HOHU. “Everybody has tried to study so hard. I heard most them saying they are tired because of the unemployment crisis and the recession, but I sincerely hope that everyone who is using our library can achieve what they want.” Additionally, he said a lot of heartfelt things as warming helps beyond a merely form of formal interview. It corresponded to what our page, HOHU, seeks to do and the reason I can run it until now. I hope to get the great chance to interview not only another guard but also the other workers, such as the cleaning women.

SM Actually, it was my second interview after I started to work in HOHU. There is a man who is famous for selling the makgeol-li, the Korean traditional alcoholic beverage, by wandering around Hongdae for the past 30 years. Last year, as soon someone said “he came to the festival of Hongik university”, I ran into him to meet. When I asked him to do an interview, he refused at first, because he didn’t want his story to become public. But, I continually tried to persuade him and finally interviewed him. After the interview was posted on Facebook, many people who met him by chance in Hongdae responded well to it. As I was just starting in my role as an interviewer, it gave me great confidence.

HT Why did you decide to join in HOHU?

SM I thought my lifestyle was so monotonous that I wanted to do something new in April of last year. So, I decided to apply to HOHU. When I took an interview to work with HOHU, I appealed to HOHU’s interviewers that I could be friendly with strangers. In fact, I couldn’t. Since I was too introspective, I couldn’t talk to strangers and couldn’t even look at them. However, I thought I would be able to change my character and develop myself by working with great eagerness. As working in HOHU for a year, I saw that my character had been totally changed into a more sociable one. For example, when I took a class in the winter session, I thought, “what if I try to interview someone who took this class with me?” Therefore, I waited for someone passing through the door after the class finished and called on him to interview. Then, we continued a congenial conversation. If that had been me last year, I could never have done it. I’m always grateful for what HOHU made me.

HT What does HOHU aim to do in the future?

DH We don’t take any money. We just assembled at HOHU with only passion. However, since we have our own private lives, we can’t pour all our time and energy into HOHU. So, some members have sometimes delayed our work posting interviews. Then, I fill the insufficiencies and give them a warning. That’s why I’m the leader of HOHU. However, since I’m a first semester senior now,after I graduate, HOHU will need someone to lead it, playing the role that I did. If HOHU finds that person, I want to hand my work and position over to him or her. Also, I hope that there is still the purpose that I started HOHU with and that it can remain after I graduate. I expect to see university students’ lives posted on HOHU for a long time to come.

HT Lastly, could you tell me something that you regret to say to the members of HOHU?

DH In fact, when I started HOHU, since I took a leave of absence in school, I felt relaxed. Therefore, if the others couldn’t work or were late, I just cheered them up and tried to fill their work, overlooking their lateness. However, when I returned to school and restarted studying hard for graduation, it was so hard that I tried to complement their insufficiencies at the same time. Then I became highly sensitive to them and said bad things to them, although I should have talked more smoothly and gently. I always feel sorry about that. Also, I always thank to my companion who readily assemble here to work with me. Although there is no small age gap between us, I’m grateful for them giving attention to me. Finally, I hope that the others of HOHU except me continually keep HOHU rolling and remember the time working with me after the day.

SM If I didn’t participate in HOHU, my life might be desolate. We had dinners and drinks besides working. I’m so happy that I got valued friends, though actually all of them are older than me. I hope that what they are doing will be better and that everybody will be happy. Moreover, I hope we can work together at HOHU as long as possible. I love you all!

Park Jiwon  wldnjs971105@naver.com

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