Korean Red Cross Gala Initiated by Kim Sun Hyang, Chairperson of the University of North Korean Studies
Korean Red Cross Gala Initiated by Kim Sun Hyang, Chairperson of the University of North Korean Studies
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  • 승인 2022.12.26 10:18
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At the 2022 Red Cross Gala: Chairman Shin Hee-young (back row, fourth from the left), Vice Chairwoman Jang Ye-soon (back row, third from the left), Vice Chairman Yoon Sung-ho (back row, third from the right), President Park Jae Kyu (front row, center), with representatives from the Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES), the University of North Korean Studies (UNKS), and the Korean Red Cross

 On November 11, 2022, ‘The 8th Red Cross Gala,’ under the theme of ‘caring and healing’, was held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul. Commencing in 2015, the Red Cross Gala is an annual fundraising event that invites donors to practice “Noblesse oblige” and expand the social ground of sharing culture. This year’s gala raised funds to support orphaned youth who, attaining legal age, must become independent from the orphanage. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 6th and 7th Galas were held online and on/offline, respectively. The 8th Gala returned to being an in person event. The evening began with artist Lee Soo-dong's small exhibition in the hotel lobby and was followed by the gala emcee’s interviews of youth representatives, songs sung by a female youth representative who dreams of becoming a singer, songs by Korean popera star Lim Hyung-joo, and an auction featuring paintings by Charles Jang and a young student. A total of 350 people attended the gala, including ambassadors from six countries, such as Ukraine and Egypt, and members of the Red Cross Honors Club (RCHC).

History of Red Cross GALA and RCHC

The headquarter members of the Special Women’s Advisory Committee for Volunteers at the inaugural Red Cross Gala

The first Red Cross Gala, held on October 30, 2015 and commemorating the 110th Anniversary of the Korean Red Cross, was a challenging undertaking. For the organizers—who had never before even tried to arrange an event of 1 million won per table—raising 10 million won seemed almost a ‘mission impossible’. However, thanks to the efforts of the headquarters' Special Women’s Advisory Committee for Volunteers,the sponsorship of 15 branch organizations, and the great outside donors, the funds raised exceeded the event’s target amount, and the proceeds helped to realize medical support for the treatment of underprivileged children. The gala introduced and promoted Red Cross projects through videos and provided the opportunity for meetings with advisors from across the country.

A new initiative to continue the Red Cross Gala

 On September 30, 2016, the Korean Red Cross launched the Red Cross Honors Club (RCHC) to mark its 111th anniversary. The Honors Club is a group of individual highvalue donors who have donated more than 100 million won—in single-contribution, accruing cumulative and/or pledged amounts—to the Korean Red Cross. Inaugurated with just 29 founding members, as of November 2022 the club’s membership sits at 210 donors. The Honors Club plays various roles as a humanitarian ‘honorary ambassador’. In particular, the group promotes the “humanitarian startup selection” to carry out Red Cross humanitarian activities such as medical assistance, aid for families in crisis, and support for disaster refugees. Bearing the motto “Invest for a Better World,” when it was first conceived as an idea, the Honors Club faced many challenges. But with help from Kyungnam University (KU) president Park Jae Kyu, Vice President of the Korean Red Cross Kim Sun Hyang strived to overcome the challenges and gather members.

 In 2016, despite the adverse political conditions, the second gala raised over twice the amount from the previous year, thanks to the support of the Honors Club members. The funds raised were dedicated to help support premature newborns and domestic refugees. Over the years, the Honors Club members have contributed to the Gala's success with the belief that good things are not impossible.

 In April 2019, President Park Jae Kyu invited local members of the Honors Club to hold a meeting at Kyungnam University. President Park is an Honors Club member at both the Red Cross headquarters in Seoul and at its Gyeongnam branch.

Meeting of the Korean Red Cross Honors Club members at KU (April 18, 2019)


The Progress and Future Vision of RCHC

The first anniversary of the Red Cross Honors Club (RCHC) (September 15, 2017), with Incheon Branch chairman Lee Kyung-ho's mother, Kang Young-shin (seated), joining as the 100th member

 In celebration of the new year in 2022, monthly magazine Woman Chosun interviewed Chairperson Kim Sun Hyang. When asked where she gets the energy to be a professor, vice president of the Korean Red Cross, and advisor to the RCHC, Kim replied, “Sharing and serving are the tasks and calling of the times. When my husband became Minister of Unification, I automatically became an official member of the Special Women’s Advisory Committee for Volunteers at the Red Cross. I was moved by the love and passion shown by my colleagues and the volunteers. After that, the Red Cross Honors Club was formed under the motto ‘Invest for a Better World’. Starting with just 29 members in 2016, the number increased to 195 [by January 2022], and I am an advisor to the Honors Club.”

 In a recent interview with the Kyungnam Times, Kim Sun Hyang talked about the history of the Red Cross Gala, as well as its future activities. “As Vice President of the Red Cross, I started the first Red Cross Gala with difficulty, and launched the Red Cross Honors Club as a way to continue the Gala. Today, the club has grown to 210 members. The club supports the Red Cross Gala every year.

 As for myself, after organizing the first three galas, I am now working as an RCHC advisor. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the galas were held as on/offline events. This year, we were able to return to a face-to-face event, but it was held without the glamour and in a more modest and rather subdued setting out of respect for the nation mourning the Itaewon disaster.”

 “Red Cross fundraising events in Europe are commonplace, such as the ‘Monaco Red Cross Gala’, which has a 60-year history. But in Asia, the culture is different. Fundraising through festive events is quite rare. With endeavors like the RCHC, I hope that the culture of giving, of donating, will become more prevalent. Initiatives like the Gala and the Honors Club were made possible thanks to my husband's support at home, one colleague—whom I call a ‘special agent’—and the fundraising team at the Red Cross, and of course the RCHC donors. I attend the gala annually with my husband—we are the first ‘couple members’ of the Honors Club—and the families of UNKS and IFES. Since the gala is held near year-end, it’s like celebrating ‘Christmas in advance’ with those who attend. So it is my wish to attend every year.”

Chairperson Kim Sun Hyang (front row, third from the left) with Korean Red Cross colleagues at the 2017 Red Cross Gala

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