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One day, I got a message from a young man named Han Man-il.
He opened a social enterprise renting suits to young job seekers for their job interviews. He asked me to donate some suits to his startup.
He turned out to be a graduate of SDS (Social Designer’s School), a subsidiary of The Hope Institute that I ran for quite some time. The school trains social designers.
I thought his idea was great. There were plenty of young job hunters who could not afford decent suits to wear for their job interviews. I donated three suits that I wore during my campaign as mayoralty candidate in Seoul. Thus began The Open Closet, which lends clean suits to young job hunters and charges them for the cleaning fee only.
Today, I read an interesting article in a daily. It was written by Im Gyeong-jin, who is in charge of overseas coordination at Haja Center (Seoul Youth Factory for Alternative Culture). I liked her idea. Here is a gist of her proposition.
“The young who would like to start up social enterprises desperately need a space that could serve as a foothold for their noble cause. It could develop into a support hub for such young people. For instance, lots of store spaces in subway stations are rented to commercial facilities such as cosmetics shops, cafes, and convenience stores. There is hardly any space left for public interest in public space to befit its name. Why not create a space there for the youth who are or who would like to be engaged in public service for all of us?”
It is a terrific idea indeed. In fact, the city has already established the principle of using 30% of the store space in subway stations and underground passages for public interest by renting it to social enterprises or small businesses whose main interest is public service.
As soon as a detailed plan is set up, the city administration will publicly invite applicants for such space. Present and future social entrepreneurs will soon be able to secure a space of their own, which they desperately need to realize their noble dreams. With your great inputs and participation, Seoul is turning into a city of dreams.