One Mile Closer tour focuses on giving back

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One Mile Closer tour focuses on giving back

James Hooper, 28, a British explorer and a former member of the JTBC talk show “Non-Summit,” is planning a 1,000-kilometer (621-mile) eight-day cycling tour starting Sunday, departing from Yeosu, South Jeolla, and ending at Mount Namsan in Seoul.

The campaign, One Mile Closer, is in memory of two of Hooper’s late friends and intended as an opportunity to allow participants to raise money for charitable giving, to travel and to form new friendships.

Passing through Namhae, Miryang, Gyeongju and Uljin County in South and North Gyeongsang, Hooper will continue through the Taebaek Mountains to Hoengseong County, Gangwon, and Yangpyeong County, Gyeonggi.

The Joongang Ilbo recently sat down with the 28-year-old, who on Aug. 24 published a book about his adventures, “One Mile Closer,” translated by his wife, Lee Jung-min.

Q. Can you tell us a little more about the One Mile Closer campaign.

A. The OMC campaign has three objectives: to honor my friends who passed away while climbing, to raise money for charity and to publicize the joyfulness of a challenge. OMC, at first, started out from wanting to honor the adventurous spirits of my friends, Rob Gauntlett and James Atkinson, who died in 2009 on Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps.

I will give a donation to the Nalango Secondary School in Uganda, the school they supported, in their names. Thanks to their previous donation of 100 million won ($84,170), the academic achievements of the 700 students at the school are within the top 30 percent in Uganda.

The OMC in Korea will be the fourth race of its kind - following a 1,600-kilometer tour in the U.K. in 2009, a 1,500-kilometer tour in France in 2012, and a 1,700-kilometer tour in the Czech Republic in 2014. The number of participants has also increased, from 25 in 2009, to 50 this year.

Sujan Shakya, a former panelist on “Non-Summit,” and current panelist Alberto Mondi will also be participating in the OMC in Korea.

What are your future dreams?

I’m an adventurer who helps other people. In 2007, I was the first person in the world to succeed in finishing the 42,000-kilometer journey from the Arctic to the Antarctic in 13 months. Not only was I awarded the National Geographic Adventurers of the Year award, but I’m also the youngest Brit to climb Everest.

But after losing my friends, I promised myself that I would complete a challenge that would help others rather than one that makes me happy.

I think Korean students do well at school but don’t have the capabilities to cope with real-world dangers. Looking back at the Sewol ferry disaster, I realized that they need to learn how to act in emergency situations.

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