WeAJa to auction off Moon watches

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WeAJa to auction off Moon watches

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A prototype watch with President Moon Jae-in’s signature. [JOONGANG ILBO]

The first prototype watch with President Moon Jae-in’s signature will be among the items auctioned off as the JoongAng Media Network’s 13th annual WeAJa flea market takes place Sunday in Seoul, Busan, Daegu and Daejeon.

The watches have become the most touted Blue House souvenir, and the one to be auctioned off this weekend is considered the prototype, belonging to Im Jong-seok, the presidential chief of staff.

Donating the watch, Im said that after a meeting of senior aides on Aug. 14, when the completed watch was first introduced as a presidential souvenir, he told Moon, “I will store this watch.”

Moon Jae-in watches cost around 40,000 won ($35) but are sold for as much as 2 million won by re-sellers online because they are in limited supply, with only 1,000 made each month. “It is precious to me,” Im said, “but I’m donating it because it’s for charity and is even more significant this way.”

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The annual flea market will take place Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Song Sang-hyeon Square in Busan, Gukchaebosang Memorial Park in Daegu and Boramae Park in Daejeon.

Moon also donated a necktie printed with sea lions, which once populated the Dokdo islets. The neckties were printed in 2012 by a small company to mark the 112th anniversary of Korea’s proclaiming sovereignty over the islets in the East Sea. The first lady, Kim Jung-sook, also donated an ivory Vera Wang jacket, which sold out after she wore it, as well as a gold bracelet that she “holds dear,” having had it for 20 years.

Items donated by celebrities, athletes and other popular figures will be auctioned off to the public at Gwanghwamun throughout the day, while the president and first lady’s donations will be auctioned from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Idol groups, including Bangtan Boys (BTS), Super Junior and Twice; actors Lee Byung-hun, Gong Yoo and Lee Dong-wook; actresses Gong Hyo-jin and Park Shin-hye; and athletes such as football player Lee Dong-gook and golfer Chun-gee, also donated items to the charity. Other stars who have taken part in JTBC programs, including singer IU, also sent items, as have politicians and lawmakers.

WeAJa initially launched in 2005, and the country’s largest day-long flea market has raised over 1.5 billion won over the past 12 years, with all proceeds going to help underprivileged children.

The philanthropic project “We Start” was founded 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. More information can be found at the official website: http://weaja.joins.com.

BY LIM SUN-YOUNG, SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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