By Haejin Choi and Minwoo Park
She gives tutorials on applying makeup so as to resemble Amy Winehouse, among others, and posts videos of attempts to try new activities such as kayaking, all spiced with a touch of humour.
Meet South Korea’s Park Mak-rye, a sprightly 70-year-old whose Youtube channel “Grandma’s Diary”, has made her a social media sensation, drawing more than 277,000 subscribers.
Park made her Youtube debut in January, when her grand-daughter’s video travelogue of their trip to Cairns in northeast Australia went viral.
It showed Park touching a kangaroo, diving on the Great Barrier Reef in a helmet that let her walk underwater, and splashing through the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon in a Santa Claus cap.
“One day my granddaughter filmed me in a few videos, and she must have uploaded them,” Parktold Reuters at her home in Yongin, on the outskirts of the capital, Seoul.
“About 20 days later, she tells me ‘Granny, we hit the jackpot!'”
Park‘s granddaughter, who asked not to be identified, said she uploaded the video to help teach her a new skill and communicate online.
Its surging popularity helped convince Park to upload more of her personal stories.
Park‘s most popular video, titled “Going to the dentist and market makeup look”, in which she dons black eyeliner and red lipstick, has drawn more than 1.8 million views.
She now has 43 videos on her Youtube channel, with more than 108,000 followers on Instagram. Fans have crossed the country to visit Park at the restaurant she has run for more than four decades, and she has reconnected with old friends.
Internet penetration in South Korea is 89 percent, a 2017 report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism shows. But just under a quarter of those in their 70s know how to use the internet, a 2016 poll by a government agency showed.
Park‘s story offers evidence of her fresh lease on life.
Hundreds of fans flocked to her first live makeup show in Seoul on Sunday, cheering her as she waved smilingly back.
“I thought I would end up living in the shadow for my entire life without ever seeing light, but it is finally full of sunshine,” she said.