Bodine visits Korea

Retired western officer speaks at symposium on role of charity shops.


Lt. Colonel Robert Bodine, now retired, visited Korea as the keynote speaker for the International Charity Shop Conference 2006, a symposium on the role of charity shops or thrift stores in Korean society.

“Thrift stores are not the way of Koreans,” Bodine explained, “Nor is volunteerism a way of life in Korea.” However, the Beautiful Stores chain is breaking those traditional mores, with 72 branches, 180 employees and 4,500 volunteers.

Lawyer Won Sun Park began the first Beautiful Store in 2002. He visited England and saw an OxFam thrift store, an English charity organization that has been part of the British way of life for decades. Returning to Korea, he established the Beautiful Stores chain, a not-for-profit organization to benefit the charities of the world. Bodine states that Beautiful Stores are doing a good work in Korea, encouraging recycling, donating and volunteering.

After almost 100 years in Korea, The Salvation Army is building its first thrift store. Another Korean, Michael Shon, is donating land in Seoul for a new Adult Rehabilitation Center, including a residence that will accommodate 100 men and a thrift store. His father visited the ARC in Riverside, Calif. and was impressed with the men’s testimonies. He decided to donate a percentage of the net profits of his corporation to The Salvation Army.

Though alcoholism has not been a large problem in Korea in the past, with a changing culture, they are seeing more need to treat addictions as well as a growing indigent population.

“The men in the ARC will work in the thrift store as part of their treatment,” said Bodine. “The Salvation Army believes that work therapy teaches good work habits and how to work with authority.”

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