Ewha students revive Big Issue man’s childhood dream
Ewha students revive Big Issue man’s childhood dream
  • Mun Mi-kyung
  • 승인 2013.05.26 16:50
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Kwon, the Ewha Big Issue man, holds his violin with EMOC students who helped him finally revive his dream. Photo by Kahng Sun-woo.

Every day, an elderly man in front of the Big Issue stand greets the passing Ewha students, radiating a friendly atmosphere and with smiles in his eyes. Students also smile back, returning his greeting. Sometimes, a student asks for a Big Issue magazine and his whole face lights up. This gentleman is Kwon, the vendor known as the Ewha Big Issue man and who wished to give only his last name for the interview. Kwon is quite a star among Ewha students for his smiles and jokes and often interatcts with them via Facebook. Recently, Ewha students have found a way to help Kwon achieve his long-lost childhood dream of playing the violin.
Sold by homeless men after its introduction to Korea in 2010, Big Issue is a pop culture magazine that is made to help the homeless stand on their feet. Since March 2012, Kwon the Big Issue man has been selling the magazine in front of Ewha. His friendly nature has enabled him to develop a close relationship with numerous Ewha students. In March 2013, his friendship with Ewha students took a special turn when members of EMOC (Ewha Marketing Oriented Creators) came up with the idea of making Kwon’s life-long dream come true over a cup of coffee. After talking about daily activities, the members of EMOC asked what his childhood dream was and started an 88 day campaign to help him finally achieve it.
“Studying music has always been my dream,” Kwon said. “I have been interested in the violin, but I have never had a chance to pursue it further.”
EMOC participates in marketing contests and tries to use its marketing strategy in the real world. EMOC members had come to know Kwon well through Facebook and small chats about their daily activities when purchasing Big Issue.
“We wanted to find a way to help Kwon,” said Park Hyun-jung (English, 4), a member of EMOC. “He is always friendly to Ewha students, so we looked for ways to promote the sales of Big Issue and furthermore, achieve his dream.”
The members first heard about his dream when they asked what he had always wanted to do since he was a little child. After confessing his passion for violin, EMOC came up with a plan to help Kwon even though it seemed almost impossible to achieve. On April 4, EMOC went with Kwon to Jongno-gu to buy him a violin, using money they had saved from their already-tight budget. Then they advertised the plan to help Kwon and recruited violin majors from the College of Music to give him private lessons.
“Carrying out the plan was difficult because we had to design slogans and illustrations all by ourselves,” said Kim Hyo-jin (German, 4), the president of EMOC. “However, the happiness we gained far outweighed the difficulties. We are glad to have had the chance to actually help and give back all the smiles and jokes Kwon has given us.”
As a result of EMOC students’ dedication, Kwon has been taking violin lessons once a week since early April. EMOC also designed postcards to encourage students to pursue their dreams, just like Kwon. As Kwon’s violin dream is to be carried out for 88 days, EMOC also encourages Ewha students to write what they want to achieve during that time on the postcards, which will be delivered to the students.
To promote the sale of Big Issue, EMOC has come up with a sticker panel on which purchasers of Big Issue can put a sticker and receive a certificate for the help they have given to Big Issue. EMOC’s campaign to help Kwon was positively received by Ewha students. More students began to learn about Kwon and Big Issue.
In order to thank Ewha students for their generosity and caring hearts, Kwon came to Ewha’s Daedong Festival, where he advertised the magazine at a booth for Big Issue. On the last day of the festival, Kwon gave a singing performance with owners of stores located in front of Ewha to show how Ewha keeps close relationships with its surrounding stores. He also wrote calligraphy for students, something he has enjoyed and studied since he was seven.
During his 14 months in front of Ewha and through his friendship with the students, Kwon says he has come to believe that many people’s stereotypes about Ewha students are biased and have no basis.
“I believe society is wrong in its tendency to think of Ewha students as heartless women who measure things only with money,” Kwon said. “Ewha students are kind, generous and pure in their hearts. People will realize that society’s popular stereotypes are wrong after talking for a few minutes with any Ewha student. Ewha students and especially, EMOC students have helped me finally able to play the violin. I will forever be grateful to them.”

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