|▲ Foreign students are choosing clothes at a flea market on November 13th.
On November 13rd, we heard people’s voices from the Chonnam National University (CNU) flea market hosted by RESTU, a marketing club at CNU. Many people went in front of the CNU Main Library to look for good items or to see the performances. A flea market is a type of bazaar that rents space to people who want to sell or barter their merchandise. We can find used but high quality goods at a low price at second-hand stores like a flea market. Shopping second-hand is very common in European culture. In Korea, it has been a short time since second-hand culture became activated and the Beautiful Store, a charity shop, has had a positive response from many Koreans. In this issue, the Chonnam Tribune examines the value of second-hand and the impacts on our everyday lives.
Consumption Pattern and Second-hand
When we bring ‘second-hand’ or ‘used’ goods to our minds, maybe it is easy to think of old and obsolete things. Usually, Korean people seem to have a tendency to change their personal possessions quickly to a brand new product. For example, when a new phone is released, the new phone is advertised in a variety of media and the advertising promotes the consumption of the phone. It is not because their cell phone is no longer working but they just think their one is out of vogue and want a new one which has better functions. Furthermore, some people like a new article just because it is 'new'.
But the value of second-hand goods varies from person to person. Some people do not like them, but others may think that shopping at thrifty shops is a good alternative to purchase many unique and precious articles at a low price. Im Song-eun (Sophomore, Dept. of Ophthalmic Optics, Dongkang College) said, “I like second-hand goods because they have their own values with a story from the previous owner. So I like a used product more than a new one.” She added the cheap price is also an advantage of second-hand shopping.
On Campus Second-hand Culture: Flea Market
Many people want to buy used articles because of the cheap price. CNU students make an effort to find and buy second-hand books in the beginning of every semester. Students need major books, but most are really expensive. So they use lots of different ways to save their money, such as buying used books. One way is Life Square Marketplace, a bulletin board on the CNU website. Whenever every semester starts, postings selling or buying used major books flood the marketplace board. If students find their needed books on there, they buy and sell them by direct dealings. Another way is that students succeed many books from their seniors or buy books at a used book sale event mainly held in the beginning of the semester.
Some students shop for second-hand items in a flea market held by RESTU twice a year every semester. In the market, students enroll as a seller, and when the market opens, they bring their used things and sell them. Many students including foreign students enjoy second-hand shopping on campus. One of the sellers, Choi Hyun-jin (Sophomore, Division of Animal Science) said, “The profit I made is about fifty thousand won. It was nice that people bought my castoff clothes at a cheap price and they are satisfied.”
Off Campus Second-hand Culture: Charity Shop
As second-hand culture gradually pervades our everyday life, a new place which is combining second-hand shops with donations appeared in our society. The charity shop, Beautiful Store, benchmarked the concept of Oxfam, the first charity shop in the U. K. When the first Beautiful Store opened in the middle of Anguk Street, Seoul in 2002, there was a culture of donation and sharing second-hand goods. Now the store converts donated products to monetary donation and has more than 100 chains across the nation and is recognized as a successful social enterprise in Korea.
The Beautiful Store is working under the mission of “Making a beautiful world of sharing and circulation where everyone participates” and accepts volunteers ranging from university students to middle-aged people. It recycles many things which we do not use anymore by donation. It is like donation breathes new life into many things that would be thrown out. It is not only to preserve the environment but also to help neighbors with the stores’ profit.
There is one within a stone’s throw of the CNU as well, so CNUians can go there easily. The Beautiful Store in Yongbong-dong, there is about 30 volunteers and most of them are CNUians. The store has a place for anyone who wants to use it for reading books or meeting. Han Hey-young, the manager of the Beautiful Store in Yongbong-dong said Koreans’ perception of second-hand goods has changed. “The faltering economy makes swap shops popular, but people buy used goods not only because they are cheap. The bigger reason is an environmental concern. People also buy second-hand items in this store because when they buy used ones at the same time they can help someone who is in need.”
In a capitalist society, some people think we should consume more new products because it can create more jobs and activate the economy. But mass production and consumption causes environmental destruction and it is becoming more and more of a serious problem all over the world. For this reason, the number of the people who like used goods is increasing because recycling second-hand goods can help the environment. If people just throw away their used things, they will be trash and causes difficulties with waste disposal. It will eventually destroy the environment. An environmentalist, Seol Mi-yi said, “I use second-hand goods largely because it is cheap and by using it, we can save our environment. I would like to recommend that people should use second-hand goods and save our world together.”
Last November 25th, Seoul National University opened a second-hand market, ’MARKET in U’ at its language institute. It was for students to have a desirable consumption pattern by activating second-hand culture on campus. It was the first time social enterprise founded at a national university. Like this, second-hand shops are increasing around us and second-hand culture is becoming a part of our life.
By Lim Seon-young, Student Editor