May, the season of warmth and pleasant weather, is also a meaningful month for the MiRiNAE movement. The MiRiNAE movement is a concept which is translated from a Korean expression, “paying first for others.” It started from a small cafe named “Whoo Whoo Coffee Shop,” which is located in Sancheong, Gyeongsangnam-do. Kim Jun-ho, who first thought of this idea, and Choi Ho-lim, the owner of the cafe, started this movement on May 8th, 2013. A year after the initiation, 211 stores across the country are participating in the movement. The movement is especially being expanded through SNS advertisements by individual store owners and university students.
The MiRiNAE movement was inspired by the “Suspended Coffee” movement which started in the city of Napoli in the southern Italy. Suspended Coffee started from an Italian tradition called “Caffe Sospeso.” It was made to share a cup of coffee with neighbors and serve those who cannot afford for themselves. It had almost died out before a group of people formed a network in 2010 to maintain and expand the tradition. Today, the movement is very active in many countries.
Similar to the Suspended Coffee movement, people can pay additionally to store products or services for other neighbors or people who are in need. Kim Jun-ho said that he thought a lot about how to make people trust each other for making donations in an easy way. He created the MiRiNAE movement with these two objectives in mind. He said, “Once a store participates in the movement, the store must be checked on its status before one year passes.” He added that he hopes this movement would encourage to build a better society, where people can trust each other and be better off.
Trust is an important factor to conduct the MiRiNAE movement and it makes this movement different from other forms of donation which are run by other foundations. According to the KTV broadcasting, one of the biggest reasons why many Korean hesitate to make donations is their reliability in those foundations. Even big and famous foundations are sometimes investigated for ambiguous management and misuse of donations. There are often questions about how much they really spend for the purpose of donation and how to select beneficiaries.
Unlike other foundations, the MiRiNAE movement, does not collect donations into one amount. Instead, each participating store gives a coupon which has the exact value of the donation, and the donor puts this coupon into a box. The store then shows how many services and products can be offered outside of the store.
Therefore, donations are made directly. Also, it does not specify who can be a beneficiary. Its main purpose is serving neighbors and people who cannot afford, but the door is open for everyone. Everyone can be a beneficiary, including the donor himself. This system may leave room to be abused. But in hopes that people who are given will give in return, it is an experiment in making a better society. This is the uniqueness of the MiRiNAE movement.
To participate in the MiRiNAE movement, shops which are part of the network are posted online (www.pininterest.com/mirinaeso).
People who want to participate in this movement can find stores near them and visit those stores. It is a simple process which can be applied in all stores. The process is the same at all stores. Just pay more than the price of whatever you purchase for donation.
For university students, the MiRiNAE movement works with Univexpo Seoul. Since MiRiNAE movement just began last year, it still needs promoting and ideas to develope more. Univexpo Seoul connects students with MiRiNAE stores for advertisement and development. Recently, four universities’ clubs have joined actively as supporters. The door to be a supporter is open for everyone and at anytime. In addition, students who participate also can receive credits for their volunteer time since MiRiNAE is a nonprofit organization.
The mascot of the MiRiNAE movement has charming blue star-shaped head which reminds us of outer space. This is because MiRiNAE also means Milky Way in Korean. Why do people think the Milky Way is beautiful? It is because every single star gathers and shines together. MiRiNAE movement has reached its first birthday this year. Hopefully this beautiful movement would remain active, through its method of one-on-one donations, to make not only Korean society shine but also the world a better place.
Q. What kind of difficulties exist for participating in MiRiNAE movement?
Kim Jae-chuel, the owner of Haru Yeon Ga
A. Firstly, I have a difficulty to spend the donated coupons. Most customers who come to my store usually hesitate to spend the donated coupons. Therefore, they are piled up and only a few spend them. Because of such imbalance, it is difficult to handle donated coupons for me. Secondly, I feel perplexed when some people try to use donated coupons for fun. MiRiNAE movement does not limit users, but donors usually believe that their money will be spent by people who need help. I do not know how to handle this gap between donors and receivers. Lastly, since this movement is run by individual owners, the difficulties cannot be easily solved. I think it should be better if a governing body exists.
Seo Hyuck-jun, the owner of Cafe Brotherco
A. There is no great difficulty to participate MiRiNAE. In my store, many people gratefully donate money for others. For example, I offer rental services for people who need a place to use. Some users, such as NGO members, donate for other NGO which is smaller than them and needs money to rent. There is also a fun story. Some donors write funny sentences on their coupons like “for left-handers,” “only for a single,” “to charming lady who has long, beautiful hair.” It is humorous and that is why I participate in the MiRiNAE movement. If there is a tiny problem, there are more donors than users. But I heard that some participants are planning to donate money if it is accumulated a lot to be spent on in their stores.
Even though some people doubt the clearness of management, but I believe that people who participate in this movement will not use donated money for bad intention. Because this is run voluntarily, I believe the people will use the good will for improving humanity.
Kim Du-hyeon firstname.lastname@example.org
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