'Trip to Haiti changed my life'

SOUTH KOREA - Helping those in need offers its own rewards, and this may be no more true of anyone than Kim Kyung-ran.

The once high-flying TV anchorwoman suddenly quit her job at KBS last year not only to become a freelancer but to start a second life as a philanthropist helping children at home and abroad.

"It's not obvious volunteer work voicing out for help. It's literally a fun activity for both children and us," Kim, 35, told The Korea Herald.

She was one of the most promising announcers of the state-run broadcaster, having hosted its main evening news programme from 2007-09.

Her life began to change in 2010 when she went on a volunteer trip to Haiti right after a devastating earthquake in January. She helped children for her programme "Request of Love" that raised funds for poor and sick people.

"Seeing desperate children, I realised that change for them was the first step for social changes," said Kim.

"The direction and goals of my life have totally changed. I used to focus only on work that was given to me. Even though I did my best, my inside was still empty and hollow."

She realised happiness does not come from working for herself but for others.

"Seeing someone elated makes me happy," she said.

Two years later, Kim quit KBS and became an honorary ambassador of ChildFund Korea, a charity group promoting the well-being of children through education and community services.

Later in the year, she visited South Sudan plagued by post-independence instability.

"It was quite like when our country had just become independent. People were thrilled by what they had achieved but they had nothing on land. In a different aspect, it also meant they could fully absorb whatever help they received," she said.

Upon returning home, she organised a small philanthropist group called South Sudan Sharing Union to assist children's education there, along with five other "talent donors" including a proficient broadcast producer, a photographer and a scriptwriter.

The group produced promotion documentaries and small booklets, utilizing their own specialties.

During the second trip this year, the union visited a local school with plenty of educational materials and spent time with the children for two weeks.

"Possessing stationery kits itself can motivate children with pleasure. We just want to gift them a thrilling possibility that they can have hope if they study," she said with an excited voice.

The former announcer saw hope in children's eyes while teaching Korean characters with a textbook that she made by herself.

"Children know the preciousness of learning. Because they had few opportunities to learn, they truly appreciate and enjoy every second of it."

Their talent donations continue in Korea as the illustrator raises funding through collecting rewards from voluntary painting projects and Kim as well from guest speeches.

Raising funds from distinguished methods, they are mapping out a third visit, hopefully in the near future.

"Taking just one step forward after two years of a dilemma completely changed my life. If you reach out your hand to something with a bit more activeness, the angle of your life will soon be changed," she added.

Kim currently hosts entertainment programs on the tvN cable channel.

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