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Korean diocese launches restaurant to serve poor

Hansaeng restaurant will offer free lunches to anyone every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday

Korean diocese launches restaurant to serve poor

Bishop Simon Kim Ju-young of Chuncheon blesses the kitchen of church-run free meal restaurant during the inauguration on May 15. (Photo: Diocese of Chuncheon) 

Published: May 16, 2022 11:22 AM GMT

Updated: May 17, 2022 04:22 AM GMT

Chuncheon Diocese in South Korea has launched a restaurant to provide free lunches to poor people three days a week.

Bishop Simon Kim Ju-young of Chuncheon opened the Hansaeng restaurant in the grounds of the Cathedral Church in Jukrim-dong of Chuncheon city on May 15, according to a report on the diocesan website.

Among other guests present at the launch were Chuncheon city mayor Lee Jae-soo, parliamentarian Heo Young, and Dohu, the chief monk of Cheongpyeongsa Buddhist temple.

The restaurant will provide free lunches to anyone every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.

The project is run by the diocesan Social Welfare Society with funds left by the late Chuncheon bishop, John Chang Yik, who led the diocese from 1994 to 2010. Currently, it does not receive any funding from public institutions but accepts voluntary support from citizens.

Bishop Kim said he was happy to re-launch the free meal service, which ran until 1998 when it was closed.

“The diocese stopped running a free food service for the homeless in 1998. I'm happy to restart the service to share food with needy people again,” he said.

“I hope that it will become a space where anyone in the community can have a meal and share life together spiritually.”

Lawmaker Heo Young said: “Thank you for reminding me of the value and meaning of life in a world where there are many poor, homeless people who need help.”

The free lunch service in Chuncheon Diocese is modeled after two existing Church-run free food services in the capital Seoul — Myeongdong Bajib and Thomas House — both feed hundreds of poor, hungry people each week.

The demand for such a service has significantly increased due to job losses and homelessness fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic, media reports say.

South Korea is the fourth-largest economy in Asia. However, about 15 percent of an estimated  51.6 million Koreans live in poverty, according to official statistics.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, South Korea has the fourth-highest rate of relative poverty among 38 developed countries in the world.

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