Issue/WT Notices2012.06.07 11:47

[International News from the WT]


3. “Go Beyond Poverty and Cry for Co-existence” – The Anti-poverty Mutual Network of Japan Visited Korea


In cooperation with the Hope Network and the Youth Community Union, the Work Together Foundation invited Kawazoe Makoto, a representative of the Anti-poverty Mutual Network of Japan, Takazawa Ami, the treasurer, Yuasa Makoto, the secretary-general of the Anti-poverty Network, which is the superior office of the Anti-poverty Mutual Network, and Uchiyama Tomoe, a hands-on worker, for four days from September 27 to 30. The visitors sympathized with the poverty and youth problems taking place in Korea and had a profound conversation about countermeasures against unstable employment problems for youths by holding a discussion on the construction of mutual assistance.


Trusting Each Other is the Most Important Factor in Mutual Assistance

- a discussion: ‘Let's Do it Ourselves!’



Around 60 people attended


The schedule's core program was a discussion entitled ‘Let’s Do it Ourselves!’ It was held on September 29 (Thursday) as a fundraising and management event for youth mutual assistance. Ji-Eum from Hae-Bang-Chon Guesthouse Bin Zib, Ji-Hye LEE from the youth community Manhaeng, Kim Lee Min-Kyoung from the anti-poverty activist group Kkumseul, Mi-Seon KIM, a team leader of Edu Money, Pyun-Sun DAN of the Jarip Music Production Association, Sung-Joo CHO, a leader of the policy-making team of the Youth Community Union, other representatives of various youth communities, and financial specialists participated in the panel.

Pyun-Sun DAN, Ji-Hye LEE, Ji-Eum, Mi-Seon KIM, clockwise from the upper left


Panel members exchanged views on the results of the fact-finding survey of nearly 300 young people between the ages of 15 and 34 from last June to August about ‘unstable working youths and social safety nets,’ and discussed mutual assistance for youths and by youths, sharing examples of mutual assistance between the weak and vulnerable in Korea and Japan.

The presentation of the Anti-poverty Mutual Network, introducing a case in which 100% of the money loaned was paid back by the borrowers, drew the attention of the audience. Kawazoe Makoto, the presenter, said “We do interviews like a bank before giving out support funds, not about terms but to meet people, listen to their stories and share their concerns. It touches people and leads to a high rate of redemption.” He added that getting back into proper society is the important issue, and that proper society is where people can trust and rely on each other, rather than doubting each other. This received applause.

The discussion was a worthwhile experience which revealed some discrepancies about the form and role of organizations, but reached a consensus on the need for it.


Bad Money Drives out Good

Besides attending the discussion, the visitors stopped by the Korea Center for City and Environment Research and the Korea Labor and Society Institute to compare the harsh reality of social safety nets, temporary employment and poverty in Korea to that of Japan, and to reach a profound understanding of the matter. They visited the Dongjadong Sarangbang and the Deduction Cooperative of Sarangbang Village, and observed the poverty of flophouses and how the residents improved their lives by forming a cooperative.



A flophouse room inhabited by five people. They are living under the anxiety that redevelopment could start at any time.


Also, they attended “The Night of Sponsorship” organized by the Youth Community Union, and had a chance to meet people from the anti-poverty activist group Kkumseul, a community of college students who sleep in an open area of Sungkonghoe University, and the Jarip Music Production Association, which was founded to gain financial independence for young musicians. The meeting helped the visitors understand problems Korea faces, such as education mortgage and the housing problems caused by high costs. They also stayed at Hae-Bang-Chon Guesthouse Bin Zib in Itaewon, experimental multifamily housing which resembles a guesthouse.



A photo taken with members of the Jarip Music Production Association


As the events proceeded, a sense of community grew between the visitors and the hosts as they discovered the problems Korea and Japan share, such as the lack of social safety nets and high rates of temporary employment and unemployment. The conditions faced by Japan after the Lehman Crisis on Wall Street in 1998 and those faced by Korea after the economic crisis of 1997 were especially noted as being similar. Yu-Sun KIM, the chief of the Korea Labor and Society Institute, expressed his grief regarding the degradation of standards in dealing with matters of employment and unemployment, saying that Korea and Japan are the only OECD countries that do not provide a hospitable working environment for women in their thirties after childbirth, making it difficult for them to find anything but temporary employment.



A discussion with Yu-Sun KIM, the chief of the Korea Labor and Society Institute


These mutual problems can become a stepping stone for the future. The Work Together Foundation, the Hope Network, and the Anti-poverty Mutual Network of Japan reached a mutual understanding by sharing critical ideas on common hardships that youths in Korea and Japan experience, and the need for an alternative financial system and a housing model. The schedule ended with an assurance of cooperation in sharing the information needed to solve these problems.



A part of the Youth Community Union’s presentation


Translated: by Seung-Eun LEE

Edited: by Patrick Ferraro

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