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South Korean Startup Only Hires People Over 55, to Fight Age Discrimination

EverYoung, a technology company based in Seoul, South Korea, has an unusual yet strict condition when hiring new staff – candidates have to be at least 55-year-old. It’s been this way ever since EverYoung was founded, in 2013, and it now employs 420 seniors aged 55 to 83.

South Korea’s corporate culture is notorious for forcing workers into retirement before they reach the official retirement age of 60, but EverYoung founder, Chung Eunsung, hopes to change this practice by proving that seniors can be just as valuable to a company as young workers. In 2013, he set out with the clear goal of only hiring only individuals over the age of 55 and he has stuck with this rule for the last 4 years.

“Korea is ageing and the phenomenon is accelerating, so we believe that their participation in our economy would in fact, revitalise it, as well as breathe some life into the aging society,” Chung told Channel News Asia. “I believe that by employing seniors, we help to improve their quality of life and welfare.”

EverYoung is a content monitoring company which trains its staff to use platforms on Naver, South Korea’s version of Google. Their main tasks are censoring sensitive information on Naver Maps, and monitoring content on various blogging platforms, but some are trained in several IT skills, and sometimes even conduct coding classes for kids.

Most people believe that seniors are slow and at a loss when it comes to technology, but Chung Eunsung claims that his elderly employees full of passion and energy, and are always eager to learn new skills. Furthermore, he says that they show a high level of attention to detail, and are not as easily distracted as the younger workforce.

“I try to keep up with the times and I’m eager to learn new skills again,” an 83-year-old EverYoung employee says. “I have picked up so many new IT skills here and enjoy coming to work every morning because of that.”

“After my two daughters grew up, I felt like I shouldn’t be doing nothing. I wanted to do something for myself, and develop myself,” 59-year-old An Kyeong-hwa, a trained mathematician, added.

EverYoung employees work four-hour shifts and have a mandatory 10-minute break every 50 minutes. They can grab a snack in the fully-stocked company pantry, relax in a breakout area decked out with couches and books, and even monitor their blood pressure using a machine provided by the company.

Mr. Chung Eunsung said that founding EverYoung was a “practical and concrete” way of doing something about age discrimination, which he considers a “very pressing” issue in South Korea.

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