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Movember taches grow charity cash in Korea

Bunnies sporting moustaches are sold to raise cash for Movember (Helen Unwin)
Bunnies sporting moustaches are sold to raise cash for Movember (Helen Unwin)
Hundreds of men are going unshaven across Korea this November to raise charity cash through the moustache.

The Movember men’s cancer awareness campaign has spurred men from Seoul to Jeju to make like Sam Elliott as colleagues, drinking buddies and sports teams emulate the horseshoe-tached movie cowboy and set down their razors for four weeks.

The international initiative was started by a group of men betting on their hair-sprouting prowess in Melbourne, Australia, and has convinced more than 1 million clean-shaven men to become “Mo Bros” since 2004.

As well as seeking sponsorship, their fine faces of hair transform them into walking billboards for men’s health awareness for 30 days.

“Men’s health gets less attention than women’s health,” said English teacher Fergal Reid, who is taking part for the first time this year and has raised almost $300 for the Movember campaign in his native Ireland so-far.

“Men are less self-aware and more feckless when it comes to issues of their own health. There’s nothing wrong with men going out and reminding other men to look after themselves. Prostate cancer is just desperate and testicular cancer is too, they should be in the public eye as much as breast cancer.”

The 26-year-old Seoul resident noted men could get a little competitive when it comes to growing taches.

“Tom Sellick is the real reason I’m doing this,” he added.

“He is the Everest for all Movember participants. I’d settle for Burt Reynolds but it’s really Tom Sellick that I am going for. I’ll say at the moment it’s not looking too good. It could be a long month.” 
Poster for Movember Itaewon
Poster for Movember Itaewon

While the campaign spanning 10 countries has not been officially launched in Korea, hairy-faced expats across the country plan to donate to their home-nation’s pots administered by Movember.com.

“Last year, Movember became a truly global movement,” said Adam Garone, CEO and co-founder of Movember.

“Through the power of the moustache, almost half a million Movember participants raised $174 million, making us the largest non-government funder of prostate cancer research in the world. With more than 240,000 new cases of prostate cancer expected this year, the need for new collaborative research is more urgent than ever.”

In Seoul, six Itaewon bars have joined forces to help with around 200 members of 15 men’s sports teams to spurn shavers for 30 days.

Rocky Mountain Tavern, Phillies, The Wolfhound, Dillinger’s and Beer O’Clock are asking drinkers to dig deep and donate to collection tins while affiliated teams including the Aston Phillies, HBC FC, Dillinger’s Baseball Club, the RMT Wolves, Huskies and Greyhounds are already sporting fuzzy top lips 10 days into the campaign.

Organizer Jamie Cottin, who owns the Rocky Mountain Tavern, said: “The owners of these bars are all friends and we are all a big part of the community in Itaewon. We wanted to give something back and raise money and awareness for a good cause.”

The bars will host a pub crawl on Nov. 26 offering discounted drinks to all hairy-faced customers, or any who have bought special Movember moustaches or T-shirts on the night, with proceeds donated to Movember.com.

Also sprouting for Movember are members of the Seoul Hash House Harriers men’s running club, who will hold a mass shave-off on Dec. 3.

Around 40 people are also supporting the “Staches on Jeju” initiative with islanders aiming to raise $1,000 for Movember Canada.

Organizer Brandy Paron, who is from Canada, said: “Since I’m a guy, men’s health is an issue that I am interested in. I think it’s a great campaign because it is a fun, unique way to get people thinking about men’s health. And not only that, it gets women thinking too.”

Women are also supporting the Jeju efforts, with “Mo Sista” Helen Unwin, raising just over $100 for the cause in one day by selling mustachioed knitted bunnies and other Movember goodies at a local food market. The group will hold a Movember party at the end of the month.

For more information, go to www.movember.com.

By Kirsty Taylor (kirstyt@heraldcorp.com)
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