Jung Gyu-ho se convirtió en un joven capitalista ingenioso en medio de una pandemia. Corea del Sur se enfrentaba a una segunda ola emergente de casos de COVID-19. Un conocido de su padre había modificado su fábrica de cosméticos para producir mascarillas faciales que, de repente, tenían una gran demanda. El hombre le pidió a Jung, de 23 años, que había dejado recientemente su trabajo en la fábrica de semiconductores para volver a la escuela, que estableciera un punto de venta directo al consumidor en línea.
Jung already had a good sum in the stock market and was charging the rent of an apartment he owned while living in the factory bedrooms, or with his parents.Now, in just one month, the new mask business had accumulated more than 400 million wones in sales, around $ 350,000.
"I'm going to be rich?" He wondered.
The Covid-19 Pandemia devastated economies and destroyed jobs both in the developed and developing world.The loss of economic opportunities harmed young people, more likely to work in precarious sectors and secondary positions with less years of experience, much more than older adults with stable jobs.
But devastation has not been uniform.Although the unprecedented closure and economic disturbances have plunged much of the world's poor young people in a more desperate situation, for those in the privileged regions, the catastrophic changes caused by the pandemic offered an unusual business opportunity or a strong impulseTo business spirit, investment and creativity.As with vaccines against COVID-19-rich nations already offer reinforcement doses, while the poor have not yet applied the first to most of their citizens-wealth and opportunities have never seemed so clearly aGeographical Lottery Question.
The highest level of the planet's rich drastically increased their fortunes while much of the world suffered.Many have directly benefited from the crisis, reaping profits with pharmaceutical products, tests and vaccines.Services such as Amazon, food distribution companies and entertainment transmission, such as Netflix, had an unprecedented increase in demand.
Combined with governments that inject money for economic recovery, these trends enriched even more to the richest.The ranks of people with "Ultra Alto Equity", with more than $ 50 million in their name, grew by 24%, the highest increase in almost two decades, according to the global wealth report of this year of Credit Suisse.Billionaires increased their wealth by 69%, as Oxfam.
In East Asia, Europe or the US societies with better security networks, fiscal policies and more solid labor protections, young people have suffered much less or even improved their luck.The rich nations spent about $ 850 per capita on pandemic social protections, and low -income countries spent only $ 4, according to the World Bank.
"Young people who can take advantage of what has happened or who can establish themselves in that economic recovery tend to be those that are educated, more likely to adapt, in occupations that allow teleworking," said Sher Verick, an economist of the international organization of the international organization of the international organization of the international organization of theWork, which directs the group's employment strategies unit."In countries where there is poor Internet access and weak infrastructure, it is much more difficult to take advantage of it."
The disparate fortunes that emerge from the pandemic presage what will probably be, for today's young adults, a life defined by waterfall crisis in which prosperity can flow again.With climate change, the increase in migration, the increasing scope of artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency, NFT (non -fungible assets) or whatever the next technological revolution, wealth and work promise to bemuch more complex and difficult to navigate than for previous generations.Pandemia was his first test;It will not be the last at a time when young people will have to reinvent themselves often.
Such anxieties about the future resonate in "Squid Game", a television series from South Korea that has become a sensation of Netflix, with its Darwinian exploration of wealth gaps and the struggles to survive even in a accommodated nation.The dystopian aura of the program faces characters with economic problems with each other in mortal competition: weapons, a terrifying doll and the strip and loosen on an abyss, to earn millions of dollars.It talks about the acceleration of inequalities and the readjustment of the economic order as young people face less and less possibilities of finding well -paid jobs and affordable homes, much less wealth.
Jung had dreamed of getting rich - in his words, "earning enough money to disappoint capitalism" - since his family faced financial collapse.
When he was 13 years old, his father's cosmetics business broke.For a year, he lived alone in an apartment where defeated rentals accumulated while his parents moved to avoid debt collectors.Due to his family, he left the university and chose to attend a school specialized school.At age 18, he began working in a Samsung semiconductor factory, making his shifts dressed from head to head with cleaning costumes that left him soaked in sweat at the end of the working day.
The approximately $ 60,000 in initial salary were an enviable sum, almost double the average annual salary of South Korea.But he was not satisfied just by obtaining an income;He wanted to develop other cash flow currents to multiply his richness.Thus, he started a direct online shipping business that imported and sold women's clothes and sex toys from China, which generated a couple of thousands per month and began to grow the investments of it in the stock market.
However, at the beginning of 2020, Jung wanted to take a break.She left her job, closed her business online and decided to study again.Then, the pandemic arrived and the capitalist ambitions that he planned to put on hold received, instead, a huge impulse.
When the economic uncertainties around the coronavirus caused a strong collapse of the market, at the beginning of last year, and then began to recover with the same speed, young adults in South Korea went into mass went to retail investment in unprecedented quantities.Not seeing a solid future or growth in traditional employment as their parents did, many began to obtain mass loans to invest in the stock market."Gathering everything you can, including your soul," he became the creed of many young investors.
Jung requested $ 40 million of Koreans - around $ 35,000 dollars - on loans to add their investments in the stock market.
Almost at the same time, he launched the online masks sales.South Korea suffered the shortage of covers in the first months of the pandemic, to a point where the government rationed sales to two per person a week.Jung began selling facial roofs when the second wave of the country arrived.Sales were higher that first month and settled at a lower level, but became a constant income flow, which allowed him to earn several thousand dollars each month with a minimum effort.
From the pandemic, Jung estimated, his net assets increased by approximately 50%, although he has not been working.Some of her friends obtained much more, investing in Bitcoins or real estate, with much more dramatic price fluctuations, she said.A couple of friends of her age who bet on the real estate market now have between one million or two, she said.
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"I think there are always opportunities in change," he said."The rich become richer and the poor become poorer, it is definitely worse for those who now have between 20 and 30 years than for the generation before us."
The gap open by the pandemic could be impossible to save throughout their lives, he considered, comparing his fate with that of his classmates who chose to go to university and did not have the initial capital to take advantage of the market bonanza."The gap is incredibly wide," he said."I am not sure that an opportunity like this will be presented again."
While Jung's fortune was driven by the fall of the market and frenzy of the masks, the world career for toilet paper was emerging as a blessing for the young business of Oliver Elsooud, in Germany.
The 37-year-old man had left his daily work in 2016 and invested his savings, about 60,000 euros, in a new company that manufactured a product that he and his partner called "Happy Po" -Sterer happy.
The squeezable bottle of bright colors and 11 inches high triggers a stream of water.The invention was born when Elsooud experienced the benefits of using water instead of toilet paper while traveling through the Middle East and Asia for a German company to tool and electrical supplies.It seemed to be a much more hygienic, convenient and ecological alternative than paper, and return to it every time he returned to his country seemed a regression to the Middle Ages.
Elsoud's company gained strength little by little after the advertising impulse of a German version of the television reality show “Shark Tank”, called “Lion’s Den”, in 2017. But the bathroom habits, as he discovered, are difficult to change.The Germans are great hygienic paper consumers, and use more per capita than most developed nations, only surpassed by the US, who use around 33 pounds per capita per year.
In 2020, when countries began to close after the start of the pandemic, the toilet paper was rapidly sold out due to panic purchases.The creators of "Happy Po", also marketed as "Vagrane shower", were ready to intervene and offer an alternative.The sales of the device were quickly multiplied by ten in a few weeks, more than 100,000 per month.
"The coronavirus led us to the next level," Elsoud acknowledged.“Everything changed to us.We take off overnight.The demand shot;We touch the nerve of the time. ”Last February, just over four years of launching his company, he sold it for "several million euros" to a larger firm.
Elsooud does not see himself as a "Krisengewinnler", which in German means "exploited of the crisis", but simply thinks he was ready when the stars aligned and opened a unique opportunity in life.“Things certainly came out in our favor.Of course, we were lucky, but they also had other online businesses, ”he said.“You can't plan for something like that.It was the right moment. ”
He grew up in a home of middle -class Palestinian immigrants in southwest Germany.Her father worked for the German car manufacturer Daimler-Benz, which allowed the family to enjoy the comfort and security offered by the solid automotive industry of the country.Elsooud began working for a German company of electrical tools and supplies, but was attracted to Friedrichshain's promise, the old Berlin neighborhood that has become a hotbed of innovative emerging companies.
The young man remains in the company after the sale as a brand senior manager.Even thinking beyond pandemic, he feels optimistic that the business will continue to flourish, especially in the United States, where he sees a wide growth horizon, particularly among consumers aware of the environment."There are so many rear there outside that the potential is huge," he said."We have not yet come to see all the potential to explode."
If Elsooud was well positioned to take advantage of the shortage of the toilet paper, for Daniel Thrasher, in Los Angeles, it was the confinement of people in their homes in the early days of the pandemic that resulted in an advantage.
At the beginning of 2020, a year had passed since the actor had left his daily work in a cafeteria in the Brea Avenue to concentrate full time on his YouTube channel, with comic sketches that he writes and interprets, often accompanied by his compositionsFor piano.Thrasher grows his channel to a million subscribers and obtained sponsorships that assured him constant income.
Before the pandemic, he had planned to move to a quiet house near the Los Angeles River to isolate himself and concentrate on his comedy.The order to stay at home, which entered into force in March 2020, reinforced that isolation and allowed the young man - at that time of 27 years - to be some of the most creative months of his life.He improvised without stopping and introduced a series of new characters in his videos, including a Satan singing, a composer cat and personified postponement.
At the same time, as people were forced to spend much of their time indoors and sought distractions, their subscribers almost tripled, 2.7 million.Their income increased by a similar proportion.Other creators of inline content with whom he spoke noticed similar increases.In 2020, 81% of Americans said they used YouTube, compared to 73% in 2019, according to the Pew Research Center.Among the contemporaries of Thrasher, young adults between 18 and 29, 95% use the service.
Although he feared losing them, his sponsors seemed even more anxious to renew his contracts with him, and higher rates."There were more budgets for the Internet," he said.“Pandemia reinforced the idea that the Internet is the place where marketing money must be spent.It was difficult to find creators who to give these funds. ”
It was from Covid-19 that the wave and disheveled artist with a shameless smile began to be recognized on the street once or twice a week.He went from a single person operation to a team of four, hiring creative assistants and an editor to help manage his channel.In July, he bought a house in Studio City for $ 2.1 million;This year, he anticipates that he will win more than one million for the first time, he said.
Because their parents are health workers and risk their own lives to save others during the pandemic, emotionally felt very affected when he began to win more than them, he acknowledged.
He also knows that the panorama of his industry is volatile.Pandemia caused a large number of Tiktok stars to make short videos in their rooms.When the orders of staying at home rose, earlier this year, and vaccines began to be available more widely, Thrasher, along with other youtubers, saw their numbers fall.
"There is much more competition ... a wave of people arrives at YouTube," he said.“They come to knock down the rest.And I am working as if someone was about to tear down. ”
Jung, who is now 24 years old, does not know how rich it will be in the future.But he is planning it.He moved to pleasant Hill, in California, last August, to continue with the university studies he had started online.He bought an upper Nissan used and is paying his education and his daily expenses with his income for the sale of the masks.He studies business administration, taking advantage of his experience having carried out small operations and investments.He wants to work in the consulting sector before directing his own business;He is not sure what he will be, but he knows that he doesn't want to work for anyone else.
In the United States, he has also found friends with a different level of wealth.Two fellow studies, which she met in her first weeks, came from families with private jets.The pandemic, she said, had the effect of teaching him how quickly the gap is expanding between those who have and those who do not."I didn't realize that money generates money," she said."I think now I understand capitalism a little better."
Kim reported from Seoul, and Kirschbaum from Berlin.
(This is the fourth in a series of occasional notes on the challenges faced by young people in an increasingly complex world. The presentation of reports for the series was financed by a subsidy of the Pulitzer Center on Reporting crisis).
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