Taking off long-kept dirt, the mountain takes a deep breath

In early autumn, it was still hot during the day. The IWF members went to Mount Gwanak which about 20,000 citizens visited on a holiday from the cities of Seoul, Gwacheon and Anyang.

On September 21 (Sunday), 2008, Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah, Chief Director Lee Gang-min, PR Ambassador Han Wang-yong, Chief Director of Korea Youth Service Center Lee Bae-geun, and 210 IWF members participated in the “2008 Cleanup Activity Around Mt. Gwanak.” This cleanup was planned as a link of “Clean Oxygen” and “Clean Region” programs out of “Clean World Movement,” which was projected as a new paradigm of the social welfare by the IWF. The “Clean World Movement” is a movement to purify the world by approaching the environmental movement in a perspective of welfare in order to solve the basic problems of poverty and refugees caused by the environment pollution. It pursues passing down clean water, oxygen, region and life to our descendants.

After finishing cleanup

IWF Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah, Chief Director of Korea Youth Service Center Lee Bae-geun, and IWF PR Ambassador Han Wang-yong encourage the members who are attending the cleanup to make the world a cleaner place.

Before they cleaned the mountain, Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah encouraged the members at the entrance square of the mountain, saying, “Let’s give joy to our neighbors who climb up and down the mountain.” She also showed her appreciation for the efforts of the members who were doing their best to purify the world by making a clean environment with a pure mind. Lee Bae-geun, Chief Director of Korea Youth Service Center, also encouraged the members, saying, “Now our environment is being destroyed and polluted. In this age, the Clean World Movement delivering the love of a mother to all the world is a holy and meaningful movement that saves life.”

Professional Mountain Climber Han Wang-yong, who was newly inaugurated as a PR Ambassador for the IWF’s “Clean World Movement” on July 24, attended the event with his two sons who are in elementary school; he had climbed the 14 peaks of the Himalayas, which are over 8,000m, and was leading the “Clean Expedition.” He said, “Today, Mt. Gwanak is the best of all for me because I do good with good people.” Then he explained the four rules climbers must keep: (1) “Plan thoroughly before climbing in order not to have any left-over food or equipment,” (2) “Bring back trash, not leaving it on mountains,” (3) “Do not bring back wild animals or plants from the mountains,” (4) “Pass along the designated path to protect wild creatures and prevent landslides.”

The IWF members clean the mountain, nearby roads, and terrace land on the river.

Following the starting signal, the members divided into three groups and started to clean three different areas: Some cleaned the mountain climbing path, some from the entrance of the mountain to the Seoul National University subway station, and some from the entrance of the mountain to Sinlim subway station. Equipped with tongs and gloves, the members picked up trash throughout the mountain path, streets and the terrace land on the nearby river. Citizens who climbed the mountain on a holiday greeted the members, saying, “You are doing a great job.” A climber named Yu Byeong-mun (47, from Anyang city) said, “I saw many people throwing away garbage on the mountain, but hardly saw people picking it up. Today, I’ve come with my children and you’re cleanup efforts will be a good example for them.”

Most of the garbage was found on the mountain. The members found old trash around comfortable shady areas and in nearby valleys where climbers prefer to rest. They removed broken pieces of glass, thrown-away sickles and dangerous materials; and they even dug up vinyl embedded in the ground and removed them.

“An old aluminum lunch box, a bottle of yogurt, a 20-year-old butane gas canister, a 25-year-old instant noodle package, a 25-year-old shrimp snack package, and an alcohol bottle . . .” One child in the 3rd grade shouted out the kind of garbage he had picked up. He mysteriously looked at the instant noodle package of which the manufactured date read “1983,” and you could see the faces of the adults blushing.

Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah showed an example by taking the lead in the cleanup and encouraged the members, holding each hand and said, “Now the mountain can breathe.” It really did seem like the mountain was able to breathe after all the trash, which had been buried for several decades without rotting, was taken out of the ground. Although this was a small effort put into a small part of the earth, the world will be clean more and more when the hands for the “Clean World Movement” increase.