WeAJa charity flea market expects biggest crowd yet in 11th year

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WeAJa charity flea market expects biggest crowd yet in 11th year

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The 11th annual WeAJa charity flea market will kick off Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Seoul, Busan, Daejeon and Jeonju, North Jeolla.

At the event, which draws more than three million people each year, attendees can trade goods, bid for items donated by celebrities and enjoy entertainment on the sidelines.

Donors this year include retired figure skating star Kim Yu-na, entertainer Yoo Jae-suk, actor Yoo Ah-in, Girls’ Generation member Seo-hyun, National Assembly Speaker Chung Ui-hwa, GS Caltex Vice Chairman Huh Jin-soo, and Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol.

The country’s largest day-long flea market has raised over 1.2 billion ($1 million) won in previous years, with all proceeds going to help underprivileged children. This year’s market is expected to be the largest ever, following a steady increase in participation from domestic companies, local authorities, celebrities and other civic organizations.

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Last year, approximately 175,400 items were put up for sale.

Donations by high-profile public figures will be sold at auction, while other items - donated by companies, nonprofit organizations and individuals - will be sold at a fixed price.

The event also features other services and entertainment, including musical performances, free health consultations, quizzes and crafts.

Programs differ by host city.

The flea market will be held simultaneously in Gwanghwamun Square, central Seoul; in front of the Pororo Library in Busan Citizens Park; at Borame Park in Daejeon; and at the plaza in front of the Jeollabuk-do Provincial Government Office in Jeonju.

Former figure skater Kim Yu-na donated a porcelain bowl adorned with her own initials and autograph, a gift from renowned Korean potter Jo So-su.

Actor Yoo Ah-in, who appears in the recent blockbusters “Veteran” and “The Throne,” donated a personally designed shirt he wore in a photo shoot.

Entertainer Yoo Jae-suk put up for sale his gray backpack, which he wore on a trip to Brazil while shooting the MBC variety show “Infinite Challenge.”

Golfer Chun In-gee, who won the Japan Women’s Open Golf Championship earlier this month, donated a golf bag she used during her tour, adding that it held great significance for her because it helped her seize the winner’s title and take eighth place in the women’s world golf rankings.

Yang Seung-tae, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, donated two landscape paintings purchased from a store in Croatia.

The art pieces were bought during a trip in October 2014, Yang said, adding that Croatia and Korea were similar in that they both achieved economic development following the pain and tragedy of war.

“I want to share the energy I felt through these gorgeous panoramas of Croatia,” he said.

GS Caltex Vice Chairman Huh Jin-soo sent in two high-end neckties and a limited edition pen from Montblanc.

Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol donated a folding pan that bears the four gracious plants, also known as the Four Gentlemen or the Four Noble Ones in Chinese art: the orchid, the bamboo, the chrysanthemum and the plum blossom.

Lee’s close aide said it was one of his most cherished possessions.

Seoul’s Roman Catholic Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung gave away an engraving featuring Jesus Christ that had been hanging in his room for the past 19 years. The piece, “My God, My God,” was named after a text from Matthew 27:46: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and was given to him as a gift in 1996.

WeAJa initially launched in 2005 to celebrate the anniversary of the establishment of the JoongAng Media Network, the parent company of the Korea JoongAng Daily.

Over the past decade, WeAJa has collected more than 1.2 billion won, with proceeds going to a philanthropic project called We Start.

We Start was spurred in part by the JoongAng Ilbo in 2004 when the media company shed light on the plight of underprivileged children in a heart-wrenching series of articles.

The news served as an informal call to action, and about 50 private organizations convened to lay the groundwork for the founding of the initiative.

We Start operates We Start Villages, multipurpose care facilities in areas with more than 200 children in low-income brackets.

The villages provide family counseling, psychological and physical checkups, after-school study programs and nurseries, as well as additional services.

So far, they have supported more than 67,000 children.

Free parking will not be provided at the fair and taking the subway or bus is recommended.

Admission is free.

For more information, visit weaja.joins.com or call 02-2115-7331 for the Seoul flea market; 051-867-8701~2 for Busan; 042-486-9008 for Daejeon; or 063-255-5044 for Jeonju.

For email inquiries, write to flea market@bstore.org.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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