Hansaeng Restaurant will offer free lunch every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday
The Catholic Diocese of Chuncheon in South Korea launched a restaurant to provide free lunch to the poor three days a week.
Bishop Simon Kim Ju-young of Chuncheon inaugurated Hansaeng Restaurant at the premises of Jukrim-dong Cathedral Church in Chuncheon City on May 15, according to a report on the diocese’s website.
Other guests at the launch included Chuncheon City Mayor Lee Jae-soo, Member of Parliament Heo Young and Dohu, the chief monk of Cheongpyeongsa Buddhist Temple.
The restaurant will offer a free breakfast every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The project is managed by the Diocesan Social Welfare Society with funds left by the late Bishop of Chuncheon, John Chang Yik, who led the diocese from 1994 to 2010. Currently, it receives no funding from public institutions but accepts the voluntary support of citizens.
Bishop Kim said he was happy to relaunch the free meal service, which operated until 1998 when it was closed.
“The diocese stopped operating a free food service for the homeless in 1998. I am happy to restart the service to once again share food with those in need,” he said.
“I hope it becomes a space where anyone in the community can have a meal and share life together spiritually.”
Lawmaker Heo Young said, “Thank you for reminding me of the value and meaning of life in a world where there are many poor homeless people who need help.”
The free meals service in the Diocese of Chuncheon is modeled after two Church-run free food services in the capital Seoul – Myeongdong Bajib and Thomas House – which feed hundreds of poor and hungry people each week.
Demand for such a service has increased dramatically due to job losses and homelessness fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to media reports.
South Korea is Asia’s fourth largest economy. However, about 15% of the approximately 51.6 million Koreans live in poverty, according to official statistics.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, South Korea has the fourth highest relative poverty rate among 38 developed countries in the world.