Moon goes hiking with heroes

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Moon goes hiking with heroes

President Moon Jae-in welcomed the new year with a hike up Mount Acha with a group of local heroes at the crack of dawn Wednesday.

Amid light snowfall, Moon trekked up the mountain with several aides and a group of seven people known for “righteous” acts in 2019, ranging from a dedicated firefighter to a singer who single-handedly knocked down a man trying to sexually assault a young woman. The eclectic group kicked off the 4.73-kilometer (2.9-mile) hike of Mount Acha, which lies between eastern Seoul and Gyeonggi, at 6:50 a.m.

The individuals recognized for heroic acts included Lee Ju-young, a 29-year-old teacher at Andong Gangnam Elementary School, who was lauded for saving two students hanging out of a window of a fourth-floor classroom during a school fire last month; Lee Dan-bi, a 29-year-old female firefighter from South Gyeongsang who was off duty and on her way to a wedding last September when she saved a mother and child from a flipped vehicle; and Park Ki-cheon, 43, who stopped a drunken man from killing himself in Incheon in November by jumping into a river after him.

Singer Im Ji-hyun, known by his stage name Atone, chased an American English instructor who was attempting to sexually assault a woman in a residential area in Mapo District, western Seoul, on Nov. 30. Im knocked him down, and police arrested the assailant.

Also taking part in the hike was Yoon Hyeong-chan, son of Yoon Han-deok, the much-beloved head of the National Emergency Medical Center who died of a heart attack over the Lunar New Year holiday in February 2019 while tending to patients. The late Yoon was a national hero for his efforts to improve the quality of emergency medical treatment in Korea.

“As much as we worked hard in the past year, we have the right to happiness,” said Moon to the crowd of hikers as they reached the summit. “The government will make an effort, and if the people are with us, this year will be a bit more hopeful and better than the one before, and we will continue to make a better year next year.”

Yesterday was Moon’s third new year since inauguration, and he has hiked up a different mountain each time. During the trek, Moon encountered students from his alma mater, Kyung Hee University, and told them, “Fighting for the new year!”

Moon and his aides, including Noh Young-min, the Blue House chief of staff, and Kim Sang-jo, the presidential chief of staff for policy, headed back to the Blue House around 9 a.m. The entire hiking party wrapped up the morning with a meal of tteokguk (rice cake soup).

The president earlier posted a New Year’s message on his social media account: “The New Year will be one where clear achievements will bud and bear fruit.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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