Korean hero helping the homeless one meal at a time
Commemorating World Korean Day on October 5, a list of Koreans who live around the world and work diligently to raise the status of Koreans as good global citizens was released.
On the list is Jung Shin-ki, a taxi driver living in Christchurch, a city on New Zealand’s South Island.
Jung Shin-ki received a national award in recognition of his work with the homeless on World Korean Day this year.
Although he works as a taxi driver, Jung Shin-ki is also chief executive officer of “Blessing Bread for Homeless.” For the last 14 years the organisation has been serving free meals every weekend to the homeless community in Christchurch.
When he recognised the problem, Jung Shin-ki adopted the belief that homeless people have the right to eat, so he took 10 hamburgers to Latimer Square in the city’s centre. Posting signs to let people know he had free food, homeless people began to approach him. It did not take long for him to run out, but he promised to return the following weekend, a promise he has kept for 14 years.
With a background in engineering, Mr Jung immigrated to New Zealand’s South Island in 1993 because he was looking for a new challenge.
Whilst supporting his family of 3 sons and 1 daughter is challenging on a taxi driver’s salary, he said, “One cold winter day in 2007, I drove a taxi through Latimer Square and saw police hitting the police line. When I approached out of curiosity, there was a homeless man who couldn’t overcome the cold and hunger. It was heartbreaking to think that he would have died.”
Temperatures in Christchurch can be freezing, with some winters experiencing snow.
Others have been inspired to help. Mr Jung has been joined by a group of dedicated workers who come from New Zealand, South Africa and the Philippines.
Jung Shin-ki is determined to continue his work until the end. He wants to provide the homeless with opportunities to stand on their own two feet. He has plans to establish a foundation to support the homeless and help then create new beginnings for themselves.
The New Zealand government has also recognised his hard work and practice of love for his fellow neighbours. This year Jung Shin-ki was awarded a medal for service from the New Zealand government to go with his national award from South Korea.