There are a lot of people out there in the world who have it tough. What’s admirable about some of these people is that although they have so little and may work so hard, they have this positive attitude that we all so admire.
Meet Madame Yoo from South Korea. She’s 82 years old, she’s got a terribly bent back, and she lives on around 2,000 Korean won (approx. US$2) a day … barely enough to survive.
That $2 is earned through a whole day’s worth of scavenging the streets for cardboard boxes and recyclables, which she collects and stacks on a little trolley before pulling them all the way to a recycling depot to be exchanged for cash.
You may wonder if she’s got any family. In an interview with two guys who feature in an Oct. 19, 2018, “Asian Boss” video, she is asked if she has any kids. Yoo holds up five fingers.
Yes, she has five kids, but sadly, they don’t seem to be too concerned about their elderly mother. She lives by herself off a dingy little alleyway in Seoul, the nation’s capital, and her home is strewn with recyclables that she plans to sell.
The show host learns that Yoo is receiving a government pension, which helps a little, but not enough.
Collecting boxes is her main income. It’s tough though, for there are a lot of other elderly people living in poverty doing the same, which means there aren’t enough boxes for Yoo.
“That’s why my neighbor collected a lot of recyclables to help me out,” Yoo tells her interviewer.
“How long do you plan on continuing this job of picking up boxes?” the host asks her. “You have to take into account your age.”
“If I get too old, I won’t be able to do it,” she says.
“Then how do you plan on getting by?” he asks.
Yoo pauses. She lets out an awkward laugh and smiles. “I’m sure my kids will help…”
It wasn’t the most optimistic of answers.
Seoul can get bitterly cold in winter, but Yoo has no heating. “The heating in my house is broken,” she says. “I get through the winter with an electric heating pad.”
Not only is she without heating, she has no hot water to shower in either. The boiler must be fixed to have hot water.
“How do you manage to get by?” she’s asked.
“You manage to get by!” she responds animatedly with a great big smile on her face. “You just use cold water.”
“You shower with cold water in the winter?” asks the host.
“You can still survive,” she responds simply, still smiling.
Madam Yoo maintains such an upbeat character despite her many hardships. She’s just grateful she has her independence, in that she can move about by herself, feed herself, and doesn’t need to be helped out of bed each day.
“I have that kind of outlook, which makes me thankful to God,” she adds.
After a round of dialogue, Yoo demonstrates how she goes about collecting boxes on the streets, at the host’s request, before taking them to the recycling depot.
It’s only at this stage of the near 14-minute-long video that we see how bent her back really is.
However, she’s always smiling and in good spirits.
She insists on pulling her own trolley despite the show host’s attempts at helping. She doesn’t want to bother him.
He later gets to help, using the excuse that he’s curious to see how heavy her load is. We later learn that it was 29 kilograms’ (approx. 64 pounds’) worth of boxes. Most other days, however, she hauls a heavier load.
From those 29 kilograms of boxes, Yoo earned $1,800 Korean won (approx. US$1.80). The guys at the depot had given her an extra 100 won (approx. US 10 cents).
She says she usually buys eggs. Today she was to buy some vegetables, but she soon finds out she’s accidentally picked out more than what she can afford. Good thing she’s with the Asian Boss squad, who insist on paying for her vegetables, and a little more.
Throughout the video, what stands out the most is just how positive Yoo is despite the fact that she’s living in such poverty. She doesn’t once complain about her hardships, and just gets on with life with the best kind of attitude she can.
When Yoo brings her companions back to her humble abode, she offers them a cup of coffee. They sit cross-legged on the ground, hot paper cups in hand, and she tells them with a brilliant smile on her face: “I had fun today. It was a great day!”
The show hosts have prepared a generous surprise for Yoo. You’ll need to watch the video to see. It’s certainly heartwarming.
See the feature below: