Creating a socially responsible Olympics

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Creating a socially responsible Olympics


Left: A retail shop in Gangneung 2018 Festival Park near Gangneung Station sells products made by social enterprises. Right: An image of Juyeong Elementary School in Gangneung where Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance planted trees as a sustainable partner of the Olympics. [GANGWON SOCIAL ECONOMY CENTER, SAMSUNG FIRE & MARINE INSURANCE]

The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics is not just about sports. South Korea hopes to create positive social impact through the Winter Games as the municipal Gangwon government, social enterprises and corporate sponsors engage in different activities aimed at promoting diversity, sustainable development and corporate social responsibility.

At the heart of the endeavor is the sale of eco-friendly products as well as items made by people with disabilities.

Gangwon Social Economy Center, a non-profit organization, and the Gangwon provincial government set up a temporary retail space near the venue to sell products for a good cause.

Nestled in Gangneung 2018 Festival Park near Gangneung Station, the store invited 114 social enterprises to sell 618 items such as souvenirs, food and beauty products.

“The pop-up store sells accessories and fashion items made by people from disadvantaged backgrounds or those with disabilities,” said Yoo Heon-gyoo, a public relations worker at Gangwon Social Economy Center.

“There is also a section for upcycled products made of leftover materials and garbage. The sales will contribute to create less waste and minimize environmental impact while helping the low-income people that have been hired by the social enterprises,” he said.

The retail shop will run until March 25 after the Paralympic Games end on March 18.

Community Chest of Korea and the Korea Social Enterprise Promotion Agency have also been working to take socially vulnerable groups to the Olympics, ensuring that they can also be a part of the festivities without having to worry about prohibitive ticket costs.

So far 1,400 people including disabled people, children from low-income families and elderly people that live alone have benefitted from this scheme.

Not only does the program take them to sports stadiums, but also offers tours of nearby tourist destinations.

Other organizations focus on enhancing the value of diversity by bringing multiethnic families together.

Jeju Tourism Organization covered the cost of sightseeing and watching the Winter Games for 30 people from multiethnic families.

Olympics sponsors have also joined forces to promote social value, especially when it comes to the environment.

The PyeongChang Olympics designated five “sustainability partners” tasked with spearheading projects for sustainable development in connection with the Games.

Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance, also the official fire insurance sponsor for the Games, launched a project dubbed Dream School intended to pass down the dream of a greener nature to future generations. Juyeong Elementary School in Gangneung benefited from the initiative - the insurer planted 58 trees and 1,410 shrubs in the school’s grounds.

“We also have a plan to support the school’s extracurricular activities going forward,” a spokesperson at the insurer said.

KEB Hana Bank, the official banking sponsor of the Olympics, was also selected as a sustainability partner. The bank hopes to back schools and institutions specializing in winter sports through a new savings installment product. It will donate 0.1 percent of the annual average balance of the savings product.

In line with the “Peace Olympics” message of the PyeongChang Games, the bank is also funding a choir of young South Koreans and North Korean defectors formed for the Olympics. The choir is scheduled to perform a concert today near Gangneung Station.

Twenty North Korean defectors and 20 South Koreans will participate in the performance.

The choir was formed after the Korea Hana Foundation contacted an online community called Woorion that is used as a network between young South Koreans and North Korean defectors. The foundation decided to contact the community after the Games led to a thaw in relations between South and North Korea, with athletes from the North competing in the Games and a number of delegations traveling to the South to support the event.

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