Slipper man teaches sick kids taekwondo

February 28, 2013

SINGAPORE – Korean Choi Dae Ho, who made news when he handed over his pair of slippers to a barefoot old woman, has also shared his taekwondo skills.

In his five weeks in Singapore so far, he has been an active volunteer, along with members of the Singapore Taekwondo Federation (STF) and three other South Koreans here with him.

Every Saturday, they have interacted with cancer-stricken children from the Assisi Hospice, teaching them basic taekwondo moves to help them stay active.

“It is quite painful for me to witness the children with such illnesses,” said Mr Choi, 22, who is here on a six-week trip as part of the World Taekwondo Federation Peace Corp to train with the national squad and engage in volunteer activities.

“I can’t really help by giving large sums of money but I really want to help them in their lives in every way possible,” added the Incheon native and taekwondo major at Jeonju University. “I feel very sorry that I cannot do more than what I am already doing.”

Mr Choi was surprised by the attention given to his Feb 2 deed, saying that respecting the elderly is what he has been taught from young.

He was returning to his hostel from a trip to Sentosa with his teammates when the old woman boarded the bus.

He promptly approached her, knelt down and put on her feet his pair of slippers. When he got off the bus, he sprinted for eight minutes back to his hostel as the pavement was hot.

He was recognised for this deed by the Singapore Kindness Movement last Wednesday. Its general secretary, Dr William Wan, gave him a certificate and five figurines of Singa the Lion, the movement’s mascot.

Dr Wan, in an address at a private ceremony attended by 40 staff from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and STF members, asked: “Have you not been in a situation where you wanted to be kind but you hesitated because you were not sure if people would laugh at you?”

He added: “Mr Choi has shown us that it is possible to exercise this innate kindness without having to fear what people think.”

It is the Korean’s second trip abroad as part of the South Korea-based Peace Corp.

In July last year, he spent a month in the Pacific island nation of Micronesia.

Last weekend, he participated in the Chingay Parade with the local taekwondo squad. They showcased their martial arts skills on a float.

His good deed has spurred Mr James Kua, 38, who owns local flipflop brand Ripples, to donate 100 pairs of slippers to an as-yet-undecided local orphanage. Mr Choi had previously said that he would do so if extra pairs of slippers came his way.

“I’m very grateful for Mr Kua’s deed and I can’t express my thanks enough,” said Mr Choi, who will return to South Korea on Thursday.

First published in The Straits Times – February 27, 2013

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