Charity mart greets more than 310,000

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Charity mart greets more than 310,000

The ninth annual WeAJa charity flea market was hosted yesterday at locations in four major cities. More than 310,000 participants enjoyed a festive atmosphere at the event.

This year, the large market hosted by the JoongAng Media Network was a big success by all accounts, drawing about 310,000 visitors and vendors in total, organizers said. It was held at Gwangwhamun Square in Seoul; Boramae Park, Daejeon; the North Jeolla Provincial Government office building in Jeonju; and Bexco, near Haeundae Beach, in Busan.

Approximately 500 volunteers ran the charity festival, helping ease traffic problems near the sites and looking after safety issues.

The proceeds from the four markets, about 115 million won ($108,000), will be donated to underprivileged children supported by We Start, a charity organization incubated by the JoongAng Media Network.

This year’s WeAJa market in Seoul, which had been previously held at the Sangam World Cup Stadium in Mapo District, northwestern Seoul, was moved to Gwanghwamun Square.

A 60-year-old visitor, Kwon Hae-sook, who said she had visited the flea market every year since 2005, also noted that she felt the atmosphere at the market was much more active and lively than in other years because of the change in location.

“I think there are much more items on display this year on a larger scale,” she said.

Park Won-soon, mayor of Seoul, and Kim Su-gil, president of JTBC, were among those who welcomed visitors yesterday. The city is a long-standing sponsor of the market with the JoongAng Media Network.

All four markets were packed with visitors and vendors; the scene was also broadcast live by JTBC in a 90-minute program. Because the new venue for the Seoul market is a must-see tourist attraction for foreign visitors, many foreigners were also seen enjoying the large flea market in the heart of Seoul.

“We stopped by here after a tour of Gyeongbok Palace,” said a French tourist named Paul, who was with his wife. “It is interesting to see such a big flea market being held here with a lot to see, taste and buy.”

The highlight of the Seoul event was an auction of celebrity donations.

A yellow backpack from the TV comedian Yu Jae-suk was sold for 450,000 won. The highest price was fetched by a set of wooden dolls and masks donated by President Park Geun-hye, which were sold for 700,000 won.

BY MIN KYUNG-WON, LEE YU-JEONG [jkkang@joongang.co.kr]

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