[Journalism Internship] Pandemic won’t stop these clubs from cleaning Jeju
KISJ groups gather to promote a cleaner environment on island
“Others should enjoy a cleaner Jeju,” said Joshua Park, founder of the KISJ Community Club at Korea International School Jeju (KISJ).
Park’s group is among a handful of clubs at KISJ that carry out volunteer work across Jeju Island to keep the popular tourist destination clean amid recent reports about increasing amounts of litter.
Since 2017, KISJ Community Club has preserved the nature and environment of Jeju, Korea’s southern most island best known for its beautiful beaches and Mount Halla. Through the process of cleaning up the Olle Trail and the GEC, the volunteers have a chance to directly contribute to taking care of the community, an experience unusual for an individual to achieve by themselves.
Before each activity, KISJ Community sends out recruitment forms for people to sign up to partake in their activity for that month. Both club members and community members not from the club can join in on these voluntary activities.
During the activities, club members and other volunteers walk on average 8 to 11 kilometers (5 to 7 miles), picking up trash along the way.
Yet, due to the current events circulating around the pandemic, the club’s activity and plans have taken a different turn. Regulations have been formed against the number of volunteer walks they hold in a year.
Because of these new regulations, KISJ Community, for the next academic year, is planning to promote a cleaner environment for the Jeju community in general. Because there aren’t enough opportunities for the club to engage in activities outside to help clean up the environment, it is crucial to keep what clean environment exists in the first place.
In order to preserve the natural beauty of Jeju and its Olle trails, the club is planning to raise awareness of the importance of keeping clean surroundings for Jeju. Kim Kyu-min, the current vice president of KISJ Community Club, states that it’s “a process of challenging myself.”
Another KISJ club out to saveJeju’s environment is Save Jeju Bada Youth, which focuses on collecting
garbage from Jeju beaches and is joined by 20 members. Bada means “ocean” in Korean.
Park Ji-hye, a member of SaveJejuBada Youth, recalls her motivation for joining the club as “an opportunity to participate in meaningful activities.
“There were many limitations in my efforts to improve the Jeju environment on my own, as an individual,” said Park.
Park’s club was unable to conduct volunteer work during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, but after a five-month hiatus, the club resumed their activities, gathering every two weeks to pick up the trash swept ashore from the sea and litter thrown away on the beach.
Acknowledging that the overall amount of litter must be reduced, the club recently held a picketing campaign at Sagye, a popular tourist attraction site on the island.
“By making pickets, we were able to inform people to be aware of this issue and participate in reducing unnecessary waste and plastic,” said Ryu Ji-yul, a KISJ student who founded the club, while emphasizing the active participation of members and the goal of the campaign.
Waving their handmade pickets to drivers passing by on the main road, students tried their hardest to raise awareness of the severity of beach pollution and encourage tourists to use reusable goods instead of disposable items.
Ryu mentioned that some of the cars driving by would cheer for them as they were passing, in turn encouraging and motivating them to be more enthusiastic. Ryu is planning further collaboration with other international schools on the island to cover larger areas and a cleaner environment.
“The main thing I want to focus on for now,” said Ryu, “is to spread this movement to the communities in other schools and the wider society.”
BY CHUNG JAE-HOON, KIM JI-AN AND LIM JI-YOON [firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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