Eartizen Herb is a local corporation which provides spaces for young artists or entrepreneurs to gather and build their own networks. The name is a combination of “earth” and “citizen,” which bears hope for university students to become global citizens. During his university years, Oh felt the need of spaces mainly for students. His experiences from a student-led organization called “Carpe Diem” with his two other friends gave him the motivation to found Eartizen Herb in 2007.
“I learned the importance of being together from ‘Carpe Diem,’ which allowed me to share my problems and thoughts with others to solve them,” Oh said. “If we keep our problems to ourselves, there is nothing we can do. However, sharing them can generate numerous ideas.”
At that time, there were no suitable places for university students to gather, as the concept of cafés had not been adopted in Korea yet. It became the main trigger for Oh to come up with the idea of a cultural space. Taking the form of a café, Eartizen Herb was first built in Chungmuro and remained there for seven years. It organized various activities to seek alternatives to youth problems, such as housing or unemployment. In Chungmuro, the members held city agriculture as the main theme of Eartizen Herb, believing that agriculture could become a successful and creative alternative for the young generation suffering from unemployment. Eartizen Herb did not limit itself to one kind of activity but also tried to adopt numerous measures, such as growing crops on their own and adopting horticultural therapy.
“We went through countless trials, as youth bears a myriad of possibilities that can adjust to various kinds of changes,” Oh said. “Programs such as Membership Training without drinking and building up visions of 50 years had been designed for young people to prepare for a better future.”
Currently, Eartizen Herb has moved from Chungmuro to Sinchon. Located nearby Ewha, the members expect to meet more university students from schools around the district. In Sinchon, it mainly focuses on art and culture, providing spaces for young artists who perform around Sinchon.
“Even though there are numerous kinds of franchise cafés in Seoul, Eartizen Herb is differentiated from ordinary cafés,” Oh said. “It is not yield-oriented but aims to form a community that people with similar interests can gather in and build their own precious networks.”
Eartizen Herb hopes to become a base camp for young entrepreneurs and artists to settle in. Although becoming a pioneer is not always easy, the members gain strength by meeting youths who have various interesting ideas to benefit society.
“Like many other pioneers in any kinds of businesses, we do have some financial issues,” Oh said. “However, we should endure this kind of hardships as it is always gladdening to find brilliant ideas that come from young people. I remember a group of students who wished to make a new form of university. It will probably be difficult, but I appreciate their creativity and courage.”
Furthermore, Eartizen Herb advises university students to value the local community, since they can form new networks that can help them in the future.
“If we say one person has one possibility, then one hundred people would lead to hundreds of possibilities,” Oh said. “Everyone has something that they want to do, and by gathering through community spirit, they will come closer to achieving it.”