If you’re happy and you know it, tidy up: Seoul guru explains the key to decluttering

If you’re happy and you know it, tidy up: Seoul guru explains the key to decluttering
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Jung Hee-sook, an organizing consultant in South Korea, at her office in Guri, Gyeonggi Province. (Supplied)
If you’re happy and you know it, tidy up: Seoul guru explains the key to decluttering
2 / 2
Jung Hee-sook, an organizing consultant in South Korea, at her office in Guri, Gyeonggi Province. (Supplied)
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Updated 16 August 2020

If you’re happy and you know it, tidy up: Seoul guru explains the key to decluttering

If you’re happy and you know it, tidy up: Seoul guru explains the key to decluttering
  • “My focus of tidying up is not throwing away but organizing for space,” said Jung
  • Jung enjoys a huge fan base on social media - one video on how to clean a dresser was watched 1.2 million times

SEOUL: Keep it if it makes you happy, South Korea’s tidying consultant Jung Hee-sook tells her clients as the first step for a less cluttered and more meaningful life.
“I feel most rewarded when my clients say they live happier lives after decluttering their houses,” Jung, 49, told Arab News.
It was not an easy journey to begin with she says, reminiscing about the start of her career in 2012.
“My job was often regarded as merely part of cleaning work. Tidying up is such a meaningful job that can help others in need and help people to live better,” she added.
Eight years on, she has decluttered 2,000 homes and counting, and says for that to happen it’s imperative to “read the client first.”
She cites the example of a woman who was determined to tidy up her home, not to give it a makeover but to “make life easier for her family.”
“When I visited her house, I noticed the lights dimming and curtains were still drawn. I got the sense that this family had some problems. During consulting, I learnt that the client was going blind. She wanted to tidy up her home before losing her sight to help her husband find items easily for their child,” Jung said, adding that it was one of her “most rewarding experiences.”
Often compared to Marie Kondo, the Japanese author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” who enjoys a massive following across the world, Jung says her approach to tidying is different from the one propagated by Kondo, who places a priority on getting rid of anything that does not “spark joy.”
“My focus of tidying up is not throwing away but organizing for space,” said Jung, who has written two books on the topic, “Smart Tidying Ways” and “The Best Interior is in Organizing.” “You can keep your items if you don’t want to throw them away, but the bottom line is you have to organize them for use instead of leaving them unattended or stacked up in the corner.”


South Korea seems to be listening.
Jung enjoys a huge fan base on social media — one video from November last year on how to clean a dresser was watched 1.2 million times on YouTube — while her high-profile clients include CEOs and celebrities such as K-POP girl group Mamamoo’s Hwasa.
Experts point to the country’s unique concept of “jeong” to explain Jung’s popularity.
“It’s like an old grandmother piling plate upon plate of food in front of their grandchild to the point where they feel they might burst,” said Kwak Keum-joo, professor of psychology at the Seoul National University, explaining the national “attachment to objects.”
He said that the majority of people lay great emphasis on materialistic stuff as a benchmark of social status.
Jung agrees. “Korean people possess things to show off their wealth or social reputation. Most distinctively, they feel an attachment to objects,” she said.
Changes in consumer behavior, Kwak said, are also a key factor for the rising trends of house decluttering as well.
“In the past, most Koreans were brought up to save money and conserve things, but now they’re spending money if they have it, and they can purchase things fast and conveniently online at any time,” she said.
Jung says the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown helped to accelerate the decluttering process as well.
“People were staying home longer than before and paying more attention to tidying up their spaces at homes,” she said.
Jung’s top tip for starting is to take everything out and prioritize items based on their usage or emotional attachment.
“The thing is to sort out items and put them in separate spaces. People think it looks clean when you don’t see objects, but real organizing means sorting out the hidden things,” she said.
Next, Jung wants to take her teachings to the rest of the world.
“I hope to establish the right culture of decluttering to make people’s lives happier, not just in South Korea but in foreign countries as well. I am confident that the life of my clients has changed for the better after decluttering their houses.”


Post revolution, Sudanese cinema struggles to find recognition at home

Post revolution, Sudanese cinema struggles to find recognition at home
Talal Afifi, director of the Khartoum-based Sudan Film Factory program. (Supplied)
Updated 24 January 2021

Post revolution, Sudanese cinema struggles to find recognition at home

Post revolution, Sudanese cinema struggles to find recognition at home
  • Bashir’s government aborted all cultural and artistic initiatives and fought ... diversity and freedom of opinion, says Talal Afifi, director of the Khartoum-based Sudan Film Factory program

CAIRO: Sudanese filmmakers who celebrated the end of stifling restrictions following the ouster of autocrat Omar Bashir have won multiple international awards but are yet to enjoy the same recognition at home.
Cinema languished in the North African country through three decades of authoritarian rule by Bashir.
But Sudanese took to the streets to demand freedom, peace and social justice, and Bashir’s ironfisted rule came to an end in a palace coup by the army in April 2019.
“We started realizing how much our society needs our dreams,” said director Amjad Abou Alala.
His 2019 film “You Will Die at Twenty” was both Sudan’s first Oscar entry and the first Sudanese film broadcast on Netflix, winning prizes at international film festivals including Italy’s Venice and Egypt’s El Gouna.
The film tells the story of a young man a mystic predicts will die at age 20. As Sudan undergoes a precarious political transition, the country’s filmmakers have found more space to operate, Alala said.
Young filmmakers act “without the complexes, the lack of self-confidence or the frustration that we suffered in previous generations,” he added.
Talal Afifi, director of the Khartoum-based Sudan Film Factory program, has trained hundreds of young people in filmmaking.
Bashir’s government “aborted all cultural and artistic initiatives and fought ... diversity and freedom of opinion, through policies of alleged Islamization and Arabization,” he said.
Afifi began work long before the 2019 revolution, with advances in digital camera technology making filmmaking far more accessible.
The filmmaker attended a 2008 short film festival in Munich, where the winning film — an Iraqi documentary shot on a handy-cam — inspired him to return home and set up a training center and production house.
In the past decades, the Film Factory has organized some 30 screenwriting, directing and editing workshops — and produced more than 60 short films, honored in international festivals from Brazil to Japan.
Afifi says the roots of Sudan’s innovative cinema was born from the “hard work dating from before” Bashir’s overthrow, when many cinemas were closed.
Today, cinemas are allowed — big-budget Hollywood films, as well as Indian and Egyptian movies are popular — but moves to reopen them have been frustrated by restrictions to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Sudanese National Museum organized screenings of films, including “You Will Die at Twenty,” but they were not screened in large theaters.
Filmmakers still face challenges. Hajjooj Kuka, director of the acclaimed 2014 “Beats of the Antonov” was jailed for two months last year for causing a “public nuisance” — for what he said was an acting workshop.
Other Sudanese films have also garnered international attention, including the 2019 documentary “Talking About Trees” by Suhaib Gasmelbari, which tells the story of four elderly Sudanese filmmakers with a passion for movies.
The quartet and their “Sudanese Film Club” work to reopen an open-air cinema in Omdurman, the city across the Nile from the capital Khartoum.