In lieu having read an older New York Times article of the same title….
Korea’s new generation has a notorious anti DIY culture when it comes to anything needing physicality or tools however I must give shout out to the random few who break this norm, like the owner of Urban Art guest house who built the entire place entire from reclaimed materials on his own.
Since moving to a new house with less storage than my previous place, I needed to build something so I could store my clothes and camping gear off of the floor. A week ago I found some pallets at a construction site next to my school. I had some free time after i finished classes so I grabbed a hammer from the schools tool shed and started pounding apart the pallets. Shortly I had a crowd of about 10 kids counting the number of swings it took to knock each board loose. Each time a board flew off they would cheer, “아싸”[Assa]
When I got down to pulling the nails I demonstrated how to do it then gestured for someone to take the hammer and give it a try. Everyone kid almost synchronously took a step back and waved their hands in an “x” motion, crossing their body like they were performing part of a K-pop dance routine.
Finally I coaxed one little girl to try. She jerked the nail clean out of the board with one swift movement. A smile broke on her previously serious face. Another girl offered to try. weirdly the girls all volunteered pretty easily after that but the boys were more hesitant. Once they did try it still took a few demonstrations on how to use the advantage of the hammer to pull the nail. Before long I had nail free boards and had done almost no work. Really, though the best thing I had gained was a group of smiling and laughing kids. I think though, I was the one smiling biggest.
I know that might be a small, forgettable experience for the kids but i also know that it is one that a most kids may never get, especially living in the city. I know first hand, there is no garage space or back yard to work and therefore you don’t work for fear of dirtying up everything.
In the end I leveraged the little space I had and made a mess and turned those reclaimed materials into a table using just some cheap hand tools and a second hand drill.
I grew up around tools. my dad had a huge red Mac Tools rolling box and wrenched on cars. When I was 5 or so we had people put an addition on our house. My babysitters Husband was a handyman and my next door neighbor had a wood shop. I would go and ask him for scraps and nails and pound them into some sculptures imagining they were buildings or who knows what. I wielded a a trowel “helping” lay tile. at 9 or 10 I was using a drill to help put up a fence, by 12 or 13 I was using circular saw and jig saw to build skateboard and bike ramps. Then at 16 started helping around framing sites.
Though I don’t miss working in Florida heat, I do miss seeing my hands transform a pile of wood into something amazing and hope that these kids will one have that same joy.