Actor speaks on culture of sharing

By 양승진
  • Published : Jun 19, 2011 - 18:35
  • Updated : Jun 19, 2011 - 18:35

Kwon Oh-joong. (Yonhap News)
Kwon Oh-joong calls for structured ways into volunteering

The culture of giving should start as young as possible, Korean drama actor Kwon Oh-joong has said.

The star from SBS drama “Miss Ajumma” also called for more structured ways of volunteering to make it easier for celebrities like him to give their time.

“The more you expose children to people in need the better. That is the best way of educating young children.” Kwon said during a discussion at Korea’s 1st International Conference on Sharing last week.

“What is very important is the education of the younger generation. Everyone tells other people you shouldn’t be prejudiced against the disabled but no one says anything about it (when prejudice happens). Nothing has changed.

“Every time I volunteer, I have taken my son with me since he was 3. From a young age he has been exposed to disabled people and he doesn’t care at all. He will go up and hug that person and not care about what kind of disability that person has.”

Kwon said he is currently studying social work in a bid to make himself more than what he called a “dumb actor.”

The star, who has appeared in many movies and dramas, recently including “The Duo” and “Freedom Fighter” also reflected other conference speakers’ comments to call for a more structured system for volunteers to give their time. He said that the demands for celebrities to use their talents for good could be conflicting at times.

“Recently there has been a lot of talk about giving and sharing, which was not often talked about in the past. Today we talk a lot about talent sharing,” he said.

“Many people call me and say we would like to invite you for some kind of talent sharing opportunity. If I say I can’t that makes me a very bad person. Right now it is not very systemized, celebrities are faced with a lot of requests where they can’t really say no and every event they want to they don’t always know how to.

“In these cases organizations really in need don’t receive all the help they need as (celebrities) are also providing help in situations where it is not needed. Then I get a phone call asking why did you help them and not us.”

Kwon’s dry wit also drew laughs from conference attendees when he quipped: “Then when I do help, the public thinks it is just so I can get a good public image. Some people end up thinking it is better not to give because you end up getting a bad image anyway.”

His words echoed earlier speakers at the international conference organized by Korea’s Health and Welfare Ministry and KBS .

During her opening remarks to the conference, Health and Welfare Minister Chin Soo-hee said: “We are seeing that the forms of sharing have changed, they are not just providing money or volunteer work ― we are also seeing people sharing their talents. All such developments of sharing are being seen, but there are a lot of things we can expand upon.

“The government is fully supportive of these voluntary movements and will do our best to provide larger systems and support.”

She cited this month’s creation of a National Sharing Committee as a step in the right direction.

Conference speaker Yonsei professor Kang Chul-hee also told attendees: “We have to have an infrastructure to encourage more wealthy people to give. Instead of criticizing people by saying ‘Why don’t you give?’ we should provide them with a better giving infrastructure.

“In order to promote giving we should avoid scolding. We have to take a more positive approach and introduce giving from the whole of the population.”

Kang talked about offering tax cuts and better recording of donations data as good ways to foster Korea’s sharing society.

He also voiced support for fostering sharing culture among young people.

“We should include sharing as part of the school curriculum. Our children will be taking care of Korea’s growing older population. We have to educate them about sharing from early on,” he said.

By Kirsty Taylor (