Ban Ki-moon Daily Routine

Ban Ki-moon is a South Korean politician and diplomat who served as the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 2007 to December 2016.

EARLY BIRD I think at the latest I get up on Sunday at 6 o’clock. But normal days, the latest I normally get up at 5. It has become my habit. I do not stay long in bed, even on Sundays or Saturdays I normally get up early. Because of time differences around the world, I have to deal with so many telephone calls with world leaders.

James Estrin/The New York Times

BREAKFAST Sometimes I eat Korean food, like rice and soup, kimchi. You know kimchi? Yes, for breakfast. Sometimes bread — milk and bread — what normal American people would have. I just mix, rotate. We have somebody — a chef. She’s a Korean lady; very, very trained, experienced.

WORK AS EXERCISE I have a stationary bike and also a treadmill, but I seldom use it. I am sometimes very undisciplined, or lazy even, when it comes to exercising. But both my wife and I are well fit. I think this is control, concentration of your mind and disciplined life, very disciplined life. You don’t stay in the bed; like when you’re tired, you stay 12 hours, 14 hours. I have often seen some people stay all day long. But that does not help your body condition. You have to constantly work.

GOLF, MAYBE When time is available really, then I try to play golf. I do not have a membership, so I’m invited by some friends. The Korean ambassador has a membership. The ambassador of San Marino, [Alexander] Bodini, plays at Deepdale in Long Island. That’s a very good place. Another is Manhattan Woods, with the Korean ambassador.

PLAYTIME We have a small backyard, but it’s not that small. It’s a common garden. It’s very beautiful; many trees, beautiful trees — in May, particularly. There I often play with my grandchildren when they come.

Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

ANCIENT ART When time permits, very rarely, I practice calligraphy with my wife — Chinese calligraphy. Of course, I write calligraphy in Korean, too. I started when I was in the elementary school.

DINNER Normally, we eat Korean food, prepared by the cook. Rice is a staple, then soup — vegetable soup, beet soup. I find that as you age, you prefer more vegetable food than meat.

A RARE MOVIE Maybe four to five times a year, I go to the cinema, mostly Hollywood movies, like action movies. Why do I like the action movies? Because there are so many complicated things in my brain, I really want to release myself. Action movies have clear delineations between good and bad.

MIDNIGHT OIL I keep myself up to midnight; that’s out of necessity. I told you that I’m a disciplined person and my deadline is midnight. There are a lot of piles of work, then sometimes I need to go beyond 12 o’clock, because I have not read all, I have not finished. Even then I will try to sleep by midnight, and get up early; if I’m really pressed I get up at 4 a.m. or even 3:30 to prepare for the next day. Otherwise, once I’m in the office, once I begin in my traveling, it’s like my life is something like if you ride on a conveyor belt; you have no control.