“Generation Y are coming,” a descriptive business book first published by Lim Hong-tek last November, is still gaining huge popularity and has printed 25 editions, amounting to 50,000 copies sold in Korea.
The book is comprised of Lim’s observations on a specific spectrum of millennials born in the 90s and how others not included in this cohort should attempt to understand them. According to Lim’s work, the 90s-cohort find it difficult to associate themselves both with the 80s-cohort as well as the early 2000-borns.
As a book that distinguishes itself from a sociological survey of the generational changes in Korean society, some key characteristics of Lim’s work are highlighted.
“Generalizing about the 90s cohort as one whole group is hard; however, I tried to pick out three recurrent behavioral patterns when they act as employees and consumers,” Lim said.
The characteristics pointed out by Lim include: inclining toward work-life balance, incorporating “fun” into the workplace, and fulfilling a desire for recognition. In parallel, when the cohort become consumers, they search for simplicity, an element of amusement, and strict integrity or transparency in social systems.
“I often monitor my readers’ reviews and, as expected, the assessments vary – from comments that I am merely stating the obvious characteristics, to others saying that they feel empowered that ‘I’m not the only one who feels this way at work,’” Lim said.
He explained that the sense of comfort and belonging that certain 90s-born readers get from reading the book is gratifying. In addition to reading many positive reviews, he also tried to re-read his book with a critical eye across consecutive editions. One part in particular that he mentioned was his mistake of including a segment on the difficulty that millennials have in reading. He acknowledges that not just millennials find reading hard, but in fact all generations do, because of the changing nature of obtaining information.
“Gathering from the lecture and media reporting requests that I receive, I think that employers are more interested in how to manage the new generation in terms of human resources,” Lim said.
He analyzed the surge in interest as coming from companies’ desire to more effectively solve inter-generational conflicts in the workplace environment.
His initial interest in trying to understand this particular generation comes from his career background as an employee of CJ, where he experienced diverse tasks, including supervision of new recruits’ education. He now works as a brand manager in the same company dealing with marketing responsibilities.
“I have persistently been studying, observing, and trying to understand the millennials for work-related purposes but also for personal curiosity, looking up related works and trying to apply their characteristics to business scenes,” Lim said.
One of the many ways Lim proceeds with his research on this generation includes his curiosity for neologisms used by the younger generation.
He did not, however, set out to write a book from the beginning. He had already had segments of his writing finished by 2014, and then decided to post them on a Kakao-based platform called “Brunch Book,” where writers who have passed the internal assessment of Kakao can register as members. He decided to apply for the Brunch Book project, a competition among Brunch Book authors, and was awarded the silver prize.
“However, just getting an award did not guarantee publication – the award gave me useful contacts to several publication agencies, of which only one publisher, Whale Book, showed interest,” Lim explained.
Reflecting on the years of cumulative effort he put into his work, Lim said he was thankful for the overwhelmingly positive reception.
“I often think I may be experiencing more luck than I deserve and also think that as a professional, I should become more careful in my words and actions. Nevertheless, I do want to continue writing, not necessarily to publish another book, but to organize my thoughts little by little.”