Gatekeeper Leem speaks of 30 years at Ewha
Leem’s day begins long before the sun comes up. He wakes up at 5:00 a.m. in the morning and heads for work. By 6:40 a.m., gatekeeper Leem Gong-jong inspects the daily records of overnight security guard posts and checks who stayed up overnight for patrol and the attendance of daytime guards. After checking the school’s events and visitors, he heads for a morning patrol. The slightly chilly air in April makes him shiver, but it does not bother him. Not only has Ewha been his workplace for 30 years, it is also a legacy passed down from his own father.
“My work at Ewha began in October 1984,” Leem said. “I still remember the day my father retired and I filled in his spot.”
Leem grew old with the campus. During 30 years of working as a security guard, he saw every change, big and small. He saw the sports field being replaced with the Ewha Campus Complex, and other newer and taller buildings being built on campus and how there used to be a shantytown right outside the main gate, where numerous cosmetics and clothing shops now stand.
“I remember a mother and a daughter on enrollment day in 1988 when students had to pay registration and tuition fee in person,” Leem recalled. “When I was patroling at dawn, I spotted the mother and daughter crying and wandering around the campus because they had not made the deadline for the payment. In the morning, I delivered the money to the office so that the student could be accepted. Later, the dean of the College of Education thanked me for helping out a “future Ewha student.”
Leem sits in the security office at the main gate and watches students come and go. Around 9:20 a.m., students are in a hurry to get to class on time. Only a few number of students exchange greetings with Leem.
“Thirty years ago, students used to be friendlier to guards,” Leem observed, smiling wistfully. “They followed our directions and exchanged greetings better, but it seldom happens now.”
Nowadays, Leem is worried about student safety on campus.
“Many students simply concentrate on their smartphones and fail to see cars coming by,” Leem said. “I really hope students watch out and be more careful in terms of road safety.”