▲ Ninety volunteers set out to prepare 2,000 heads of kimchi cabbage in three hours. Photo courtesy Seogwipo City Hall
This holiday season, Seogwipo’s neediest citizens are getting Korea’s most important food delivered to their doors.
An annual kimchi charity event was held on Dec. 2, at the Seogwipo Maeil Olle Open Market, which involved over 90 vendors and volunteers making kimchi for “needy neighbors” in the city. In three hours, the volunteers made 2,011 heads of kimchi, exactly one more than the previous year.
According to Han Pall Yong, one of the directors of the merchant’s union, the vendors felt a strong need to help their poorer customers. “It’s a service,” he said. “In Korea, kimchi is the most important food. Without kimchi, Koreans cannot live.”
The event, which has happened yearly since 2008, was inspired by an experience where vendors watched a disabled man struggle to buy kimchi for himself at the market. Afterwards, the officers of the Seogwipo Maeil Olle Open Market Vendor’s Union and the Seogwipo Maeil Olle Open Market Vendor Women’s Society, the two eventual sponsors, had a meeting and decided they would create an event to offer kimchi to poor people.
▲ Seogwipo Maeil Olle Open Market. Photo courtesy Seogwipo City Hall
“At first it was difficult to collect the money and the human power,” Han said. “But as time [went] by the merchants have been able to show their spontaneous work on this event.” In total, 12 million won was raised. The sponsor groups raised money both within their organization and through prior fund-raising efforts.
The list of needy neighbors was put together by Seogwipo City Hall and includes disabled people, senior citizens living alone, and single parent families. The volunteers themselves consisted mostly of vendors from the Open Market, but there were also police officers and other people from around the city who wanted to help.
The delivery of the kimchi was taken care of by Seogwipo City Hall and local government offices.
“I’m doing this to help others,” said Song Myeong Suk, one of the vendors who was making kimchi. “I’m used to making kimchi at home and I’m very good at it. This feels great.”
Han Pall Yong said that there is a saying in Korea which goes: “Even if we have no other dish, if we have kimchi [and rice], then it is enough.”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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