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South Korean walks across Vietnam to award scholarships to poor students

Saturday, June 01, 2019, 16:48 GMT+7
South Korean walks across Vietnam to award scholarships to poor students
Ha Ji Won (left) and Nguyen Ngo Quang Nhat (right) smile for a photo with children they meet in the journey. Photo: Supplied

A South Korean man has been walking through Vietnam’s cities and provinces to provide financial support to local needy students.

Ha Ji Won, 64, began his journey to spread love and kindness in 2014, walking all the way from Ho Chi Minh City to the central city of Da Nang.

Since then, he has spent one month every year walking through various regions across Vietnam, from big cities to small communes, providing financial support to needy children along the way.

Most recently, he walked through the northern province of Phu Tho.

Ha shared that he intended to award a total of VND200 million (US$8,700) to 30 students from poor families, chosen by their teachers and school administrators, in each province.

“It’s not my money,” he said. “I’m just a mailman carrying a message from one person to another.”

Ha says he chose to deliver the money on foot because it allows him to admire the magnificent beauty of Vietnam on his way to help those in need.

Before each trip, he carefully prepares everything he’ll need for the journey, including his own body. He also hire a car to follow him on his journey in order to carry food and provide him with a place to sleep for the night.

He hopes to have walked to all cities and province in Vietnam and reached a distance of 5,000km to by the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties of Vietnam and South Korea in 2022.

The 64 year-old-man shared that he skipped college after graduating high school and immediately started looking for a job to earn a living, later becoming a businessman and raising a family.

The idea of awarding scholarships to poor students came to Ha Ji Won after a trip to Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh, when he acknowledged the hardship in people’s lives.

He also said that the purpose of this annual event is to share love and learn about the lives of Vietnamese people living in remote areas.

“I temporarily close my company in May every year so that I can go on my walking journey,” he shared.

“I get a lot of praise and encouragement from my family and friends.”

Nguyen Ngo Quang Nhat, Ha’s partner and assistant in his walking journeys from 2015, shared that the South Korean does his best to understand the different cultures in Vietnam he discovers on his journey.

Nhat also shared that Ha Ji Won, along with his friends, sponsored renovations to school buildings in the northern highlands provinces of Ha Giang and Cao Bang in 2018.

“He’s not Vietnamese, but the love he has for our people makes me feel as if he was,” Nhat said.

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