Why this 70-year-old South Korean grandma is one of YouTube’s latest stars
Meet one of South Korea’s most unlikely YouTube stars.
From make-up tutorials, holiday vlogs to outdoor adventures, there’s nothing 70-year-old grandmother Park Makrae isn’t up for.
Park was first encouraged by her granddaughter to make videos as a way to stave off dementia — something that was prevalent in her family.
Her first video, a vlog of her trip to Australia with her 27-year-old granddaughter Kim Yura, quickly racked up thousands of likes, with many praising her sense of humour and her sunny attitude.
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Less than six months later, Park — who goes by the adorable name Korea Grandma online — has almost 300,000 followers on YouTube.
One of her most popular videos, in which she shares her “everyday makeup look” has almost 2 million views.
“My grandmother [is] just like us. She likes to travel, eat tasty food and take pretty photos,” her granddaughter Kim, who now films and edits her videos, told AP.
“I’m her fan too. She is such a cool person.”
But when she’s not making YouTube videos, Park is running a diner, which she says she will operate “until she dies.”
And like every celebrity, fans are mobbing her in real life. They have been travelling across the country to the restaurant, located some 34km (21 miles) away from the capital city of Seoul, for a meal and a chance get a glimpse of their favourite YouTube star.
Though Park is unable to read or write at an advanced level, she frequently updates her Instagram account. She uses no spaces between words and spells words in her own way, leaving fans guessing the contents of her posts.
“My mom and dad didn’t teach me [to read and write] even though we were not poor because they wanted to put me to work,” she said.
“As I do YouTube now, I feel sorry that I haven’t been educated.”
Life wasn’t easy for Park as an adult. Her husband abandoned her and three children when he ran up debts, and left her to raise them on her own, while having to run the restaurant every day from 4 in the morning, until 9 at night.
She eventually repaid his debts, and with little government assistance.
Looking at her cheerful demeanour however, you’d hardly guess how much she’s been through.
Today, Park has started to add more of her daily experiences to her vlog, often with the help of her granddaughter Kim.
Brands like Samsung and retail giant Lotte have also reportedly approached Park to collaborate with them for commercials, and she’s even been featured in local magazines.
“We used to think, since I’m over 70 my life is over,” said Park.
“But as I started doing this, I realised life starts at 71.”