WeAJa mar­ket strong in 10th year

JoongAng Daily - - Metro - BY LEE SUNG-EUN se­lee@joongang.co.kr

The 10th an­nual WeAJa char­ity flea mar­ket kicked off yes­ter­day in Seoul, Dae­jeon and Bu­san, with nearly 380,000 vis­i­tors tak­ing part in mak­ing this year’s event another suc­cess.

The pro­ceeds from the three mar­kets, about 120 mil­lion won ($112,000), will be do­nated to We Start, a civic or­ga­ni­za­tion aimed at help­ing chil­dren ob­tain proper ed­u­ca­tion and med­i­cal care.

This year’s WeAJa flea mar­ket ran from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Gwangh­wa­mun Square, cen­tral Seoul; in Pororo Li­brary in Bu­san Cit­i­zens Park; and Dae­jeon City Hall’s South Gate Plaza.

Do­na­tions were made by a wide spec­trum of high-pro­file fig­ures, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye; Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon; Na­tional Assem­bly Chair­man Chung Ui-hwa; Seoul’s Ro­man Catholic Arch­bishop An­drew Yeom Soo-jung; the world’s No. 2 fe­male pro-golfer Park In-bee; and Hy­orin from the girl group Sistar, among oth­ers. Those items were sold in a pub­lic auc­tion.

The rest, ap­prox­i­mately 14,000 items do­nated by in­di­vid­u­als, com­pa­nies and non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, were sold at a fixed price.

A porce­lain bowl do­nated by Pres­i­dent Park went for the high­est price. A close aide said she kept it “at arm’s reach,” filling it with candy and other small items.

The lid is in the shape of a lo­tus, and the bot­tom of the con­tainer boasts Park’s of­fi­cial sig­na­ture in Korean char­ac­ters.

Jang Il-yeoung, a 51-year-old self­em­ployed man, won the sale, putting up 7 mil­lion won.

“I came all the way here to win this item, and I’m so ex­cited right now,” he said after his bid. “It’s the pres­i­dent’s sig­na­ture that I thought was the most ap­peal­ing about this, and I’m go­ing to keep it as a fam­ily trea­sure.”

When asked how he felt about his pay­ment be­ing used for the needy, he an­swered: “There’s great sig­nif­i­cance in that fact, too, be­cause I can tell my chil­dren the cost of this ob­ject went to­ward help­ing oth­ers.”

Kim Hyung-wook, 40, from Bu- cheon, Gyeonggi, was sit­ting on a bench with his son, and had a bag filled with clothes on the ground.

“I’m wait­ing for my wife to re­turn,” he said, as he wist­fully looked around, not know­ing ex­actly where she was. “She bought five pieces of cloth­ing for her­self, and dashed away to buy some more.”

In ad­di­tion to the flea mar­ket, WeAJa pro­vided other ser­vices and en­ter­tain­ment, in­clud­ing mu­si­cal per­for­mances, free health care con­sul­ta­tions, man­i­cure ser­vices and crafts, with pro­grams dif­fer­ing by city.

The Korea As­so­ci­a­tion of Car­diopul­monary Re­sus­ci­ta­tion set up a booth in Seoul’s WeAJa mar­ket and pro­vided free CPR ed­u­ca­tion to vis­i­tors. Lee Eun-ha, a 38-year-old mother from Gimpo, Gyeonggi, said she found the ser­vice quite help­ful.

“I brought my son be­cause I wanted him to be pre­pared for any emer­gen­cies in the fu­ture,” she said. “The in­struc­tors were nice, and their di­rec­tions were easy enough for my child to un­der­stand, so I’m re­ally pleased.”

WeAJa ini­tially launched in 2005 to cel­e­brate the an­niver­sary of the foun­da­tion of the JoongAng Me­dia Net­work, the Korea JoongAng Daily’s mother company.

Over the past decade, WeAJa has col­lected more than 1.1 bil­lion won, with pro­ceeds go­ing to We Start. Es­tab­lished in 2004, mak­ing this year its 10th an­niver­sary, We Start was in­cu­bated in part by the JoongAng Ilbo when the me­dia company first shed light on the plight of un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren in a heart-wrench­ing se­ries of ar­ti­cles.

The news served as an in­for­mal call to ac­tion, and about 50 pri­vate or­ga­ni­za­tions con­vened to lay the ground­work for the found­ing of We Start. We Start op­er­ates We Start Vil­lages, mul­ti­pur­pose care fa­cil­i­ties in ar­eas with more than 200 chil­dren in low-come brack­ets.

The vil­lages pro­vide fam­ily coun­sel­ing, psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal check­ups, after-school study pro­grams and nurs­eries, as well as ad­di­tional ser­vices. So far, they have sup­ported around 67,000 chil­dren.


Pan­elists from the JTBC show “Non-sum­mit” talk on stage yes­ter­day at the JoongAng Me­dia Net­work’s 10th an­nual WeAJa flea mar­ket. The coun­try’s big­gest flea mar­ket raised 120 mil­lion won ($112,623) and pro­ceeds will go to We Start, a civic or­ga­ni­za­tion.

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