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Story ESG May 11, 2022

A young farmer dreams of a life centered around sharing

We met with Kwak Dong-ju, a young farmer who received a donated TYM tractor in 2020. We met in a suburb of Daegu, still chilly after a recent cold snap. Formerly a teacher in the city, Kwak decided that he needed a change. So he packed his bags and moved away to the countryside. It’s a daydream that many have; to escape from their frenetic urban lifestyles to live among nature. Kwak fulfilled that dream to start a new life as “Kwak Dong-ju the Farmer.” We spoke with the young farmer to find out what dreams he has now.

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A friendly math teacher

Kwak Dong-ju taught high school math, but it was people who he was most interested in. He had always loved interacting with people and helping those around him. So naturally, Kwak felt motivated to help the students experiencing stress that he saw in school. Hoping to better guide them, he took it upon himself to study psychology, but was discouraged by limitations that he felt he could not overcome by himself. This stage of his life, Kwak says, was a tough time as he was exhausted mentally and physically. So, he decided to pack up his life in the city and realize his dream of living close to nature.

Nature and neighbors

Surprisingly, Kwak says that he didn’t experience many difficulties when he first moved to the countryside. When he arrived, all he did was greet the elders in the village and they immediately welcomed him and treated him like family. They were always bringing over food and giving him things to do. With his neighbors’ help and generosity he was able to create a comfortable new life for himself. Slowly, Kwak started being more appreciative for the small things in life. Ordinary things like a calm breeze, the chirping of insects, the sadness of a wilting flower. He learned much about himself just by being closer to nature. Little by little, Kwak began to discover parts of himself that he was not even aware of, and his body and mind began to heal.

Now, what should I do for a living?

As he was settling into his more peaceful lifestyle, Kwak found himself preoccupied with things he needed to do and wanted to do. So he made the decision to begin a small-scale farming operation. Tractors are essential to efficiently carry out the large and small tasks a farm requires, but due to cost, Kwak had no choice but to rent them. During the busy season, it was difficult for him to reserve a tractor and if it suddenly rained, he could not use it. As Kwak was experiencing these issues, he learned about TYM's Tractor Donation Project for Returning Young Farmers. Without hesitation, he wrote about his story of starting a new life, sent in his application, and became one of the lucky few selected.

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The difference the TYM tractor has made

Originally, Kwak was not very interested in tractor brands or types. He had often heard stories from people who preferred prominent imported brands. But when he compared the tractors in person, he concluded that the domestic tractors had all the functions of the imported ones. The TYM tractor with its sophisticated design and luxurious red color immediately caught his eye. Kwak says he especially enjoys the cabin with its comfortable seat and Bluetooth music. When he operated the cabin-less rental tractors, he was constantly exposed to the elements. However, thanks to the snug cabin, the TYM tractor makes Kwak feel like he’s working from his bedroom. He reports that his productivity has improved, and he’s enjoying working more than ever. What’s more, he’s been able to have more free time and help his neighbors who don’t have tractors.

Giving Back

From his experience with hectic urban life, Kwak says that he’s come to greatly value the act of creating happiness with the people around him. As he had received so much help since relocating to the countryside, Kwak wanted to give back to others. After his first harvest, Kwak contacted TYM so that he could donate his crop to them as a token of gratitude. However, TYM saw an opportunity to create further social good and introduced Kwak to HISBEANS, a social enterprise that helps people with disabilities.

Dreaming of a happier community

Kwak Dong-ju has many dreams and plans for the future. He plans to continue donating his pesticide-free flour annually to HISBEANS. In addition, he is interested in landscaping, as beautiful environments can help people relax. A few years ago, Kwak helped create a 6 acre sunflower field for tourists. Currently, Kwak is preparing a nature experience project outside Daegu for students with disabilities. Great things are expected from the young farmer who is constantly striving to improve the lives of those around him. And the donated tractor is playing a major role in every one of the social projects that Kwak is participating in.

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