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Kind S. Korean gets offers of slippers

Taekwondo black belt Choi Dae Ho, 22, has yet to replace his slippers, borrowing a pair from a teammate instead. -ST
Walter Sim

Mon, Feb 11, 2013
The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Offers to give slippers to the South Korean undergraduate who gave his pair of flip-flops to a barefoot old woman on a local bus have begun streaming in.

Taekwondo black belt Choi Dae Ho, 22, has yet to replace his slippers, borrowing a pair from a teammate instead.

The Straits Times understands that at least two organisations - Crocs and the Singapore Kindness Movement - and two individuals have contacted the Singapore Taekwondo Federation (STF) with an offer.

STF has also bought a pair of Adidas slippers, which will be presented to him at a Chinese New Year dinner next Friday.

"I'm really grateful for the offers, but I'm okay with what I have now," Mr Choi said through an interpreter yesterday.

"If the slippers start coming in, I will keep a pair and donate the rest to a Singapore orphanage."

Entrepreneur Nick Kishore, 24, who wishes to donate in his personal capacity, said he could empathise: "Like him, I did not come from a well-to-do family."

Mr Choi and three other Koreans, from the World Taekwondo Federation Peace Corps, are here on a six-week fully sponsored stint. They train almost daily with the STF, and will take part in the Chingay Parade on Feb 22 and 23.

Excited to be part of the extravaganza, he said: "It is an honour, and it will also be the biggest event I have been a part of."

The Korean Embassy has also expressed its support. Spokesman Yoon Jaewoong said it is "very proud" of Mr Choi and members of the Peace Corps for being "good role models".

Mr Choi first picked up the martial art when he was five, and credits it with shaping his life values. Now, his actions have inspired his comrades, who paint a picture of exceptional graciousness.

They cite how he will stack up all the used plates and take them to the cleaners when they eat out.

Said Mr Jason Tan, 22, who captains the national squad and witnessed the act last Saturday: "There is a lot to learn from him. I was stunned when he approached the old lady - we don't see such spontaneous kind acts enough."

Ms Kim Jeong Hee, 22, the fellow Korean who took the photograph on the bus, said she did so as "he is a carefree guy who likes to joke around and it's the first time we've seen him so serious".

Yet the deed has drawn flak, with some Internet users claiming he was putting on an act. Mr Choi said: "I don't let it affect me, as I know my intentions are pure."

Singapore Kindness Movement general secretary William Wan said: "Choi's reward is the joy he experienced in being kind and generous."

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