As the amount of tuition incrementally increased, college students’ burden to afford tuition has risen as a social issue. Civic groups including Hankuk University Students Association have called for the realization of half-tuition pledge through a number of campaigns.
“While continuing to make effort in publicizing half-tuition, we thought that a campaign using cart-bars could be effective. Cart-bars are representation of ordinary people, which makes it easier for them to participate in the campaign,” said Lee Seung-jae, the executive director of Parents for Half-tuition.
The Half-price Pocha differentiates itself from common cart bars by its cheaper prices. As the name suggests, the menus are sold at half its regular price here. Alcohols including beer, soju (Korean distilled spirits) and makgeolli (Korean traditional rice wine) cost 1,500 to 2,000 won, which is about a half of their regular price. Customers also can order foods that are served hot from the oven, and these are at half price as well, such as pajeon (green-onion pancake) for 5,000 won or honghaptang (mussel soup) for 3,000 won. The Half-price Pochas operate every Thursday at Daechi and Hongik University station.
“Including myself, many students these days work part-time jobs during the school year to afford paying their tuition. It is clear that a slash in tuition is needed for them. To make it possible, I came to contribute to the half-tuition campaign as much as I could,” a customer Heo Joo-eun (Social Science, 1) said.
Under the enjoyable atmosphere, the district representative of Mapo-gu, the president of Sogang University’s student council and staffs of Half-price Pocha delivered open speeches. Governors from the opposition parties and civic activists also sat around with college students and their parents to discuss about the campaign.
The Half-price Pocha provides financial support for Half-tuition campaign by donating the revenue from sales to Union for Half-tuition. At the first Half-price Pocha, it made 220,000 won in sale with approximately 100 customers. At the second Half-price Pocha, about 500 people including college students and their parents enjoyed the food and drinks with candid conversations about their lives.
Since Union for Half-tuition is concerned with the issue of college students, most of the volunteer workers at Half-price Pochas were college students, many of them involved in Hankuk University Students Association.
Union for Half-tuition plans to open more Half-price Pochas in other areas such as Gwangmyeong-si and Daejeon-si, in attempt to spread the trend. Half-price Pochas will not be opened solely around colleges, in order for the public to become aware of the issue. Union for Half-tuition determines to continue the half-price campaigns, along with their consistent one-man protests, and gather signatures until the half-tuition pledge is reached.
“A big drop in tuition is what everyone wishes and needs desperately. To protect students and their parents struggling, it has to be achieved, and that is why I am here today,” said Kim Jun-han (Sogang University, 4), the president of Sogang University’s student council.
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