Posted by The SoleSisters on -
Juno and I have been connecting online for quite a while now. I love her go-getter attitude, zest for life and humorous writing style. Her personality definitely shines through on Runaway Juno. So when she mentioned a few months back that she was organizing the Asian Women's Empowerment (AWE) Conference in Kuala Lumpur on November 8-10, I was eager to offer my help. I was very surprised when she even asked me to be one of the social media panelists to represent the Philippines!
I couldn't help but admire this woman who wants inspire others to live the life of their dreams and not be restricted by the pressures of society. I picked her brain with a few questions and this was our exchange:
When did you start a travel lifestyle? What inspired you to take that big leap?
My very first trip as a full time traveler was back in July 2011 (can't believe it's been that long!). I used to work as a mechanical engineer at an oil & gas engineering company in Seoul. I always knew I liked traveling, but the pressure of following social norms made me settle for a day job and travel remained a hobby that I had no time for.
One day after work, when I was looking at my bucket list, I've realized that this dream of mine was killing me. I'm a dreamer, I have always been. Long work hours at the office didn't allow me to do anything but work, but I didn't stop making lists.
I've decided to stop dreaming, and either fully commit to my (back then) current lifestyle or make this dream come true. As you can see, I choose the latter.
I never looked back, ever since.
I don't just travel. I work location independently. I started this career as a travel blogger and I have been working as a freelance writer, photographer, social media adviser and many other positions in the New Media.
How does your family see your travel lifestyle? Are they always supportive or do they sometimes show concern?
It was harsh on them at first, since it was a different world to them. No one has ever done it, and they were mostly worried about my safety and future. But as most families do, they came around. We are still not perfect. But they understand my desire to make my own lifestyle rather than stick to something just because.
My recent experience in India was quite traumatic. I wasn't alone, but I didn't feel comfortable most of the two months while I was in India. It's nothing to do with personal behavior, it's about differences between the mindset. It is not dangerous, per se, it's just very different than any other places in the world.
I only went to the southern islands: Guimaras, Malapascua, Bantayan, and Negros.
I saw the Philippines as quite a hard destination for the independent travelers. I'm not an inexperienced traveler, and especially not in Southeast Asia. But the Philippines wore me out.
AWE ’13 is for empowering Asian women to follow their dreams and thrive in an independent lifestyle. Breaking the mold, and standing out is tougher for Asian women in a male-dominated society. We are restricted by culture, religion, and social convention. Many ambitious women have been going abroad where it’s easier to follow their passions in an unconventional path.
The world is changing and Asia is slowly participating in the movement. While it is still difficult to choose your own path in Asian society, there are more inspirational Asian women who are impacting our global world. AWE Conference will present models of successful Asian women and discuss participants' current life goals through workshops while designing the roads to success.
There's a discrepancy of opportunities in this field (of travel blogging) because most of the media/ tourism work opportunities are focused in either North America or Europe.
However, I saw many successful Asian bloggers who made great success in their region and home country. It's all about what you want and how you get it. Each one of you will have to define success and work on it. It's not really fair to compare something that's fundamentally different.
Do you think you'll ever put down that backpack and settle down somewhere?
Yes, of course. I'm a homey person, who likes pets, farming, decorating, cooking, and crafting. I won't stop traveling, but I will have a beautiful home.
First of all, come to AWE '13. :)
If you have a passion that you have to follow, then do it. However, don't 'just do it". It's never wise. It is not like jumping from an airplane with a parachute. If you have passion and desire, you have to be logical. Look for options, seek good advice, measure possibilities and so on. There are so many things to consider before you make hat decision. Life is long, the preparation process is a fraction of time, compare to the entire lifetime you have in the future. Don't be hasty, be patient. Be logical and be persistent. And don't forget to keep on dreaming!
Juno Kim is a travel writer, photographer, trained engineer and an amateur astronomer. She left her office job in her hometown Seoul, Korea to follow her true passion of travel writing, photography, and traveling the world. Her career change story empowered a number of people around the globe. She has been working as a location independent travel writer and photographer from more than 30 countries for past two years. To continue inspiring people, she’s hosting the Asian Women’s Empowerment Conference this November in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She has a passion for capturing stories through her camera. She publishes her work on RunawayJuno.com, MasterTravelPhoto.com and various other travel-related publications.
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