|▲ CEO Bae Hong-jik|
CEO Bae Hong-jik of Bogeum Barber Shop has walked a single path as a barber for the last 30 years. He is the president of the Central Association of Korean Barbers North Gyeongsang Province and Gumi City. But in fact he is more famous for his generous heart to give free haircut to his neighbors in need.
Bae started to learn haircut from 1975 and opened a barber shop in Daegu in his early 30s. Back then it was a common scene people lining up in front of a barber shop to have haircut and the earning was not bad at all.
“Many barber shops had a barber, shaver and shampooer to give each different area of services those days. It was when beauty salons started to take over the women and children customers that the proliferated barber shop business went down side” looks back Bae.
After a while, Bae moved his barber shop to Gumi and started to provide free haircut to locals in need in Hyeonggok-dong. He then expanded this free service to the Korea Rehabilitation Agency Gumi and Gumi Police Station.
“Having a haircut was a common event but there were still people who could not afford it. This made me think what could I do and I decided to use my talent to make something meaningful for me and for them. I also donated some money to the Gumi Scholarship Foundation in 2015.”
Skill-wise, apart from his good heart, Bae won the gold prize at the Korea Master Barbers Hair Design Competition in 2010 and 2011 in a row. In 2013, he won the grand prize at the same competition as well as at the National Skills Competition; he also obtained the Master Barber Certification issued by the Human Resources Development Service of Korea in the same year.
“The Barber Certification exam takes place 4 times a year and the Master Barber Certification exam two times a year. People in some regions have to travel to other regions to take the exams for some reason and it is vital to finish the trimming within the given time. For this, I not only cut hairs at my barber shop but also teach must-needed techniques and tips to examinees.
Bae values more of the barber’s sincere heart than the skills, however, since that is what distinguishes the qualified from the disqualified, believes Bae. This of his value has been well presented and received through his services as a guest professor to a barber school in Kyoto, Japan, and a barber school in Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang, China. He is regarded as the best barber in Gumi City and once received citations from the Ministry of SMEs and Startups and the Ministry of Justice.
Meanwhile, Bae is a member of the Gumi Meister Mentor Group which promotes the social status of artisans and technicians of Korea. Naturally, the members of the group are mostly consisted of specialists of each field from artisans and teachers to technicians and professors.
“It is regretful that barber shops in Korea is getting less popular than beauty salons. It is hopeful, however, that there is a movement of young barbers who are attracting young generations with unique design concept of the shop. This is very important as the public never give a damn if the industry itself doesn’t give it. Also important is to grow together with beauty salons rather than compete with them. I have taught many pupils who sometimes pay a visit in their spare time and the visit actually encourages me to feel more responsible to be a model myself and to keep making contribution to co-growth of the industry.”
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