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Chuseok Holiday a Time to Help Others

Posted September. 20, 2006 06:07,   


Chuseok, one of the biggest holidays in Korea, is a festival for most Koreans but not for orphaned teenagers; it only offers them another chance to remember their desperate reality.

Kim Jin-woo (a good name, 14) and Kim Jin-kyu (13), two teenaged brothers, will have a very desolate Chuseok this year. The brothers no longer have any parents to share this festive time with.

Their four-member family lived happily in Euisong, Gyeongsangbuk-do, but life became harsh after their father’s death from liver cancer seven years ago. After his death, the mother and two children moved to Seongnam, Gyeonggi and made a bare living, counting on the little money that the mother earned as a public worker. The brothers tried their utmost to become good ssireum, or Korean sumo, wrestlers although they lived in a small room in the basement. They were always spirited regardless of their poor circumstance.

However, the Kim brothers gradually lost their smiles as their mother was repeatedly hospitalized from the end of the last year, suffering from diabetes and hypertension.

Then one chilly night last February, as the storm hit the fragile window of the basement, Jin-woo called 911 when his mother complained of severe pain. However, she passed away even before the ambulance arrived, and the lives of the brothers were ultimately changed since then.

The debt accumulated from their mother’s medical costs as well as their living costs forced the brothers out of a small rented room and into a miserable situation. They had no choice but to go to an orphan asylum since the relatives couldn’t afford them.

When it rains, it pours. Jin-kyu was diagnosed with diabetes last May.

The abject case of the brothers led a church to take care of them for several months, and now, the brothers are living in “Home of Anna,” a facility for orphaned teenagers.

They gave up ssireum last February, which they had done for many years. Malnutrition stemming from poverty perpetually hindered their progress.

The Kims are planning to go down to Euiseong this Chuseok, where the graves of their parents lie.

“I want to see parents with Jin-kyu this year. We were with our mother last Chuseok, but we are alone this year,” Jin-woo said, melting into tears.

Korea Food for the Hungry International (KFHI) will conduct a campaign from September 20 to October 7, with the title of “Sharing a Warm-hearted Meal during Chuseok,” and will also seek one-to–one supporters who can help orphaned children.

Furthermore, KFHI will hold a bazaar to raise money and collect contributions as well on October 4 at the square in front of Seoul station.

“There are about 5,000 orphan families who can’t enjoy Chuseok with their parents. I wish this chance will present these lonely people with a warm Chuseok,” said Park Ji-man, the chief of KFHI’s information department.

For more information 02-544-9544, www.kfhi.or.kr